No. 15 NAI DT S11007A

Minutes of an inter-departmental conference on immigration policy by Daniel Costigan

Dublin, 24 September 1945

  1. A conference was held in the Department of External Affairs on the 21st of September, 1945, to discuss the admission of aliens. The conference was held following a request from this Department for the views of the Department of External Affairs in regard to the admission of refugees. The conference was attended by Mr. Boland, Assistant Secretary, and Mr. Horan of the Department of External Affairs and Mr. Costigan of the Department of Justice.
  2. There are on the Continent at present millions of 'displaced' persons, and it may be expected that we will in the near future receive numerous requests for the admission of refugees, and requests for the admission of people, other than refugees, who have suffered from hunger and the war and who require a period of rest and recuperation. The refugees who may be expected to seek admission are likely to be mainly Polish, Hungarian and perhaps Austrian Catholics of the 'Upper Classes' who are afraid to live under the present régimes in those countries. There are, of course, more 'displaced' persons in Germany than in any other country, but it is unlikely that any Germans will be allowed to emigrate for some time. The persons who may be expected to seek permission to come here for periods of rest and recuperation will be mainly French, Belgian and Dutch, including relatives and friends of Jews resident here.
  3. So far, the pressure to admit refugees to this country has not been great, but it is possible that it will increase. Furthermore, the Government may, on humanitarian grounds, decide to take the initiative and, as a contribution to the relief of suffering in Europe, offer to admit a certain number of refugees.


  1. Individual Applications.

    Up to the present we have received some dozens of individual applications. We have granted visas to a number of aliens who have been invited by relatives or friends to come here for periods of rest and recuperation. We have also granted visas for permanent residence to parents and other dependants of aliens resident here; but we have refused a number of applications for permanent visas from Jews and Poles who have no connection with this country.

  2. Suggested schemes for Admission of Groups.

    Apart from individual applications the following general approaches have been made:-

  1. Professor Alfred O'Rahilly, President of UCC, has suggested that a number of refugee students should be admitted to study at the Universities. He states that he and the Presidents of UCD and UCG have formed themselves into a committee to advance the project, and he has written to the Department of External Affairs asking for the views of the Government on the suggestion.
  2. Lady Listowel1 (who is a Hungarian by birth and whose husband is a member of the present British Government) has written to the Taoiseach suggesting that a scheme should be arranged for the admission of a number (she suggests 150) of displaced Hungarians, who would be specially selected from the point of view of their usefulness, to this country. She states that, if the Government are agreeable, she will take steps to organise a committee to advance the project. She states that she hopes it may be possible to raise funds from Hungarians in the USA, but she asks whether the Government would make a grant to set the scheme going.

No action has been taken so far in regard to either of these two suggestions.

  1. Offers made by External Affairs.

    During the past few years the Department of External Affairs have made the following offers to admit groups of children for periods of rest and recuperation:-

  1. an offer to admit 500 French children;
  2. an offer to admit 500 continental Jewish children;
  3. an offer to admit an unspecified number of Dutch children.
  1. Fifty French children have already arrived, 50 more are due to arrive on the 1st of October and other batches are expected later on. The children will be placed in boarding schools here, and they are expected to return to France within twelve months. The arrangements are being made by the Red Cross Society in co-operation with the French Red Cross.
  2. The offer to accept the 500 Jewish children was given in response to an approach made by President Roosevelt, in 1943, on behalf of the American Jewish Advisory Committee. The offer was not followed up by the Jewish Committee, however, and Mr. Boland thinks that we will hear no more about it.
  3. The offer to admit Dutch children was made on the basis that we would admit only children who would be provided for by Dutch nationals resident here. Nothing definite has come of this offer, but it is possible that, when transport facilities improve, we will receive applications.


  1. The present policy of the Department of Justice in regard to the admission of aliens may be summarised as follows.
  2. Temporary visitors.
  1. Aliens coming on business visits are admitted freely, provided the Department is satisfied (after consultation with the Department of Industry and Commerce) that the business is not undesirable and that the aliens will be able to return to their own countries.
  2. Aliens coming to take up employment are admitted, provided their prospective employers obtain permits from the Department of Industry and Commerce, and provided (a) the Department of Justice is satisfied that the aliens will be able to return to their own countries when their services are no longer required, or (b) the Department of Industry and Commerce certify that the services of the aliens are so valuable as to justify their acceptance as permanent residents.
  3. Aliens, who apply for permission to come here for holidays or periods of rest and recuperation, are admitted freely provided the Department is satisfied that the maintenance of the aliens is assured and that the aliens will return to their own countries.
  4. Visas are granted freely to students provided the Department is satisfied that they will leave on completion of their studies.
  1. Aliens coming for permanent Residence or Asylum.
  1. Applications from aliens who are married to Irish citizens, receive sympathetic consideration.
  2. Applications from dependent relatives (e.g., aged parents and minor children) of aliens resident here are normally granted.
  3. Applications from aliens with special qualifications, who desire to start business here, are favourably considered, provided the Department of Industry and Commerce consider that the presence of the aliens would be an advantage.
  4. Applications from persons such as distinguished scholars receive sympathetic consideration.
  5. Applications from refugees, who have no special qualifications, but who wish to come here for temporary or permanent refuge, are usually refused, unless the aliens have some connection with this country - e.g., the O'Rourke family of Poland.2 It should be mentioned, however, that, during 1938 and 1939, an exception was made from this general rule, and approximately 150 'non-Aryan' refugees from Germany were admitted for temporary refuge. Approximately 50 have since emigrated or died, and the remainder are left as an addition to our permanent alien population.
  1. Jews

    It is the policy of the Department of Justice to restrict the immigration of Jews. The wealth and influence of the Jewish community in this country appear to have increased considerably in recent years, and murmurs against Jewish wealth and influence are frequently heard. As Jews do not become assimilated with the native population, like other immigrants, there is a danger that any big increase in their numbers might create a social problem.


  1. The view taken at the conference was that the present policy of the Department of Justice should be continued, but that consideration should be given to the question of admitting a limited number of refugees, as a contribution to the relief of suffering in Europe. The suggestions which have already been made in this direction are described in paragraph 5 of this memorandum. It was felt at the conference that, if the question were brought to the notice of the Government, the Government might decide to take the initiative by making it known that a limited number of refugees - say 20 per month - would be admitted. If the Government took such a decision, it might be desirable to have a committee to select the persons to be admitted and to make any necessary arrangements for the maintenance of the refugees. This was the system adopted for the admission of 'non-Aryan' refugees in 1938 and 1939. A quota of 20 was fixed for each month and a voluntary committee, the Irish Co-Ordinating Committee for Refugees,3 under the chairmanship of the Ceann Comhairle4 selected the persons to be admitted and made arrangements for their maintenance where necessary. Now that the Red Cross Society is in existence, however, perhaps that Society would undertake this task or at least take the necessary steps to set up a Refugees Committee.

1 Judith Hare (née de Marffy-Mantuano), Lady Listowel (1903-2003), journalist and author; married to William Hare, 5th Earl of Listowel, British Postmaster General (1945-7).

2 An Irish military family and prominent landowners in Russia in the 18th century. Count Edward O'Rourke (1876-1943), Archbishop of Danzig, and the last well known descendant of the family, lived in Danzig (now Gdansk), Poland.

3 Established in 1938 in response to an increase in the number of refugee applications to Ireland.

4 Frank Fahy (1880-1953), Fianna Fáil TD, Ceann Comhairle (1932-51).

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