No. 325  NAI DFA Paris Embassy 18/5

Clear telegram from Seán Murphy to the
Department of External Affairs (Dublin)
(No. 268)

VICHY, 28 September 1943

Your telegram 6641 received here 26th had informal conversation with director of European Section Foreign Office yesterday. He had just received telegram from French Minister dispatched from Dublin 23rd September stating that in present circumstances he considered that he was acting in the best interests of France in joining with the North African Committee and that he had consequently informed the Irish government that henceforth he was taking his instructions from the Committee at Algiers. He did not say he was resigning and he did not mention the other members of the Legation. The director informed me that they had never before received such a naïve communication. It was normal for agents who took such action to tender their resignations and to state that they had handed over to one of their collaborators. French Minister's telegram left them completely in the dark as to the situation of the French mission in Dublin.

I said that I was very surprised at the date of the telegram as I had received a telegram from Dublin which stated that French Minister had informed Irish government that he had advised Vichy of his intentions before making his public declaration September 13th that he had received no reaction from Vichy and that he was still reporting there. I said in that state of facts my Government not wishing to create difficulties had let things remain as they were but that it now seemed clear that they had been deceived by French Minister; the director expressed his regret and said that undoubtedly the Irish Government have been placed in an embarrassing and delicate position which they would endeavour to clear up as quickly as possible. He asked if I had any idea of what the attitude of my Government would be towards Laforcade in the new circumstances. I replied I had no information. He then asked if I thought my Government was likely to accept a representative from the North African Committee. I again replied that I had no information. I said I understood that other Governments had accepted un-official representatives whilst retaining official relations with Vichy. He replied that there were some cases.

I asked if he could say what the attitude of the French government would be towards Laforcade and he said he assumed that he would be revoked at once otherwise the situation would be really too comical. He would have to consult with the Secretary General and the Minister; they would first of all have to find out what was the position of the other members of the Legation in order to see what steps should be taken to appoint someone as Chargé d'Affaires as of course the material difficulties prevented the appointment of a Minister. Fearing that Laforcade might not reply to communications from Vichy they might have to ask me to transmit through you an enquiry. I said I was entirely at their disposal. In the course of general conversation the director said that he was convinced that the whole affair was a manoeuvre by the N. A. Committee to get some recognition for their agent. They had tried the same trick in Sweden but had failed. He hoped that even if the Irish Government felt obliged to accept an agent from N. A. they would not accept someone who had been a member of the French official mission in Dublin.

I could gather that such acceptance would be regarded here as doubly slighting. My general impression during the whole conversation, which was very friendly as I know the person quite well, was that he was wondering whether the Irish Government was ready to accept a representative from N. A. and whether Laforcade had not already been accepted in that capacity.

I am satisfied that Laforcade's telegram of September 23rd was first intimation of his intentions received by Foreign Office.

1 See No. 324.

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