No. 318  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A2

Memorandum from Joseph P. Walshe to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)

DUBLIN, 12 September 1943

For the Taoiseach.
Sir John Maffey invited me to lunch at his house to-day. After lunch we went into his study and had a chat lasting about an hour.

He told me that he had seen you the day before and had discussed several matters with you, including the separation of the British from the German internees. He said that you had, amongst other things, asked him to secure some amelioration of the present regulations for the routing of Irish ships. He felt that we had a real grievance in this matter and he would certainly do his best to remedy it.

He then went on to talk about the war in general. He said that possibly as the war went on, each stage being better than the last, we might desire to show our goodwill towards the Allies by granting them air-fields and other facilities. We might have this particularly in view in order to secure an invitation to the Peace Conference. I replied that I felt quite certain I was representing your view in saying that there would be no question at any time of our leaving the essential framework of neutrality. We had remained neutral for a very definite historic reason. Apart altogether from the fact that we had no responsibility whatever either for the historical background of the war or for the events which actually brought it about, no State, I thought, could make war unless the vital interests of its people demanded it. However, viewed from another plane, I suggested that our neutrality, whatever certain British people might think about it, was an essential basis for the friendly attitude adopted by us towards Great Britain. If any Irish Government had brought an unwilling people into the war, it would at once have created throughout our population a feeling of deeper hostility towards England than had hitherto existed. It was essential for English statesmen to understand that without neutrality during the war Irish friendship would not have been possible. Maffey then said that as a matter of fact there was not a single British Minister who did not now fully understand the situation, and he felt quite certain that there would be no hostility whatever against us in England amongst the people who counted for anything. He himself had constantly informed them of the atmosphere of friendliness existing here both in Government and popular circles vis-à-vis Britain, and he could say without fear of contradiction that his Ministers were very satisfied with the situation.

Sir John Maffey did not say whether he had talked to you about the possibility of our going into the war or whether he had mentioned the matter on instructions or simply as his own idea. Mr. Boland is of the opinion that the idea came from Mr. Gray.

Maffey has never before been so emphatic about the attitude of mind which our benevolent neutrality had created in Government circles in Britain.

[initialled] J. P. W.

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