No. 165 NAI DFA Madrid Embassy 10/11

Confidential report from Leopold H. Kerney to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(S.J. 10/11) (Copy)

St Jean de Luz, 16 April 1938

Frank Ryan

Further to my telegram and minute of 13th inst.,1 and with reference to your telegram No. 5 of 14th received here at 1.30 pm.2, I saw the Viscount de Mamblas in Biarritz late on Thursday 14th. He had kept his promise by reminding General Jordana in Burgos of our appeal on Ryan's behalf but did not give me any indication of the Minister's attitude in this particular matter. He told me, however, that Sir Robert Hodgson3 had been furnished with information regarding the prisoners captured at the same time as Ryan and who might be deemed to be British and that Hodgson had made some classification of these according to their records and antecedents. He had spoken to Hodgson about Ryan; Hodgson considered Ryan's to be 'a bad case' or 'a very bad case'; de Mamblas gathered from Hodgson that Ryan had indulged in 'profiteering' (i.e. looting); in reply to my enquiry as to the possibility of any graver charge, de Mamblas gave me to understand but did not definitely assert that there might be some more serious accusation than that of looting.

De Mamblas was unable to say whether Burgos would advise us of the sentence that might be imposed on Ryan, or whether our appeal for clemency would prevent any death sentence from being executed. I informed him of the terms of the importance, from Franco's point of view, of not estranging public opinion in Ireland. I induced him to agree with me that it would be at least advisable, in the interests of all concerned, that I should be able to notify you of the charges that were being made against Ryan; I pointed out to him that there would be all the greater reason for disclosing these charges if they were of a serious nature because, however hopeless it might be to attempt to convince public opinion in Ireland of the justice of any death sentence, it would be of very great importance to leave the Irish Government in no doubt as to any such sentence being fully warranted. Consequently, de Mamblas undertook to wire Burgos from Irun on Good Friday morning on these lines, but he could of course not make any promise as to when a reply would be received.

To my question as to whether, in the event of my desiring or being instructed to do so, I would be permitted to visit Ryan in his concentration camp, de Mamblas replied that such permission would certainly be refused; such permission was given, however, to foreign agents accredited to Burgos.

He commented on the fact that extreme action had not already been taken against Ryan and said this was all to the good.

[copy letter unsigned]
Aire Lán-Chómhachtach

1 Not printed.

2 See document No. 164.

4 Sir Robert Hodgson (1874-1956), British Agent to Nationalist Spain (1937-9).

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