No. 340  NAI DFA 250/8

Memorandum by Michael Rynne
'Ireland and Post War Relief Plans'

DUBLIN, 9 November 1943

  1. The Taoiseach might be asked in connection with post war ‘plans’ – which have recently received newspaper publicity – what will be the Government’s attitude to post-war plans for the relief of the starving peoples of Europe? Obviously the answer to this must be that in principle the Government intends to co-operate wholeheartedly wherever and whenever possible in every post-war endeavour to supply food and if necessary money and other supplies to victims of the present hostilities, subject only to the economic and financial resources of this country after the war. Up to the present the Government have consistently given their fullest sympathy and necessary aid to the Irish Red Cross Society’s efforts to alleviate distress abroad even during the hostilities. Sometimes the Irish Red Cross Society has been unable to do as much as it wished to in this connection, but never as a result of obstacles placed in its way by the Government of this country.
  2. At the moment the new United States’ proposals for a ‘United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration’ (U.N.R.R.A.) are very much in the air.

    The Administration holds its first meeting to-day and President Roosevelt is to speak at its inauguration at 5.30 p.m. I.S.T.1 this evening.

    The U.N.R.R.A. is but one of the belligerent inter-governmental organisations for planning post-war relief. Already (since 24th September, 1941) the British Government have had the ‘Inter-Allied Committee and Allied Post-War Requirements Bureau’ deliberating in London. Ireland being a neutral in the war has not been invited to participate in the work of either of these bodies. Neither has the Irish Red Cross Society been asked to take part in any of the post-war schemes of the Allied Red Cross Societies, which have been considering measures of a Red Cross nature in conjunction, not with Geneva, but with the belligerent inter-governmental Bureau in London.

  3. In order to put this question into proper perspective, it is well to distinguish clearly at the outset two different kinds of post-war relief planning, viz: (i) Aid to be given by the national Red Cross Societies of the more favoured nations (mainly neutrals), via the Geneva ‘Joint Commission’ (established in 1940 from members of the Geneva Committee (1863) and members of the League of Red Cross Societies (1919) acting together) to, or in co-operation with, the national Red Cross Societies of the victim countries, (ii) Aid given by the Governments of the victorious countries who may be expected to find themselves in potential or actual occupation of the defeated, or previously ‘occupied’ and consequently needy, countries.
  4. As regards the first kind of relief, there is nothing that the Taoiseach need say beyond promising that whatever the belligerent Governments may do, his neutral Government will mobilise every Department of State behind the Irish Red Cross Society in any work it may undertake after the war in connection with a Geneva Red Cross Scheme to feed starving populations wherever they may be.
  5. The second kind of relief scheme mentioned in paragraph 3 above calls for a different approach from the Taoiseach.

    It must be borne in mind that the only inter-governmental (as distinct from Red Cross) plans for post-war relief emanate from the Allied Governments and that those plans are, so far, being confined to official and voluntary bodies under the control of such governments. According to Herr Hitler ’s latest pronouncement (of yesterday, 8th November, 1943) it seems that the anti-Allied Governments do not propose to make any post-war plans for feeding Europe’s populations, it being assumed that the necessary organisation exists already and that the necessary resources lie already within Europe’s territories.

  6. Hence, if the Taoiseach were to be asked what part his Government contemplated taking in connection with the Allied post-war relief plans as represented by the latest Allied body known as the U.N.R.R.A., it is clear that he must reply by reminding his questioner of the terms of the draft Agreement of the 20th September, 1943, now being discussed by the United States. The preamble of that draft plainly states that it is being presented for the consideration of ‘the governments or authorities whose duly authorised representatives have subscribed hereto, being United Nations or being associated with the United Nations in this war ’. In other words, membership of the U.N.R.R.A. is at present confined to the Allied States and to their friends at war (who are not full ‘States’), such as the French Committee. The draft Agreement (Article II) certainly makes provision for the admission of new members (‘governments’ or ‘authorities’) to the U.N.R.R.A., but such new members, it may be presumed, would be expected to come within the description ‘United Nations’. As a neutral State, Ireland, through its Government could scarcely apply for membership of the U.N.R.R.A.
  7. It might be suggested that the Government could offer to co-operate in the post war work of the U.N.R.R.A. without necessarily becoming a member of that body. The answer to this is doubtless, that the Government will be always glad to make the nation's surplus resources available for humanitarian needs, no matter through what agency in control after the war. It must be noted, however, that the draft Agreement of the new Administration does not seem to provide for such offers of assistance from governments outside its own membership. Article IV (2) of the draft prohibits foreign voluntary relief agencies from operating in areas under the control of U.N.R.R.A. unless with the latter's consent. Article V(3) of the draft lays down that purchases of supplies may only be made outside the territories of member Governments after special consultation with the Director-General of the Administration and that such purchases must be carried out through the appropriate United Nations agency. In short, the present prospect held out by the U.N.R.R.A. would seem to be summed up in the phrase: 'Neutrals keep off!'

1 Irish Summer Time

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