No. 9 NAI DFA Legal Adviser's Papers

Memorandum from Michael Rynne to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(Copy) (Secret)

Dublin, 5 September 1939

re Furtherance of Neutrality Policy

Although the war has been in existence for only two days, yet one has the impression, speaking to various members of the Dublin public, that the vital necessity of the Government's policy of neutrality is not being fully appreciated. This is probably due to two main causes, (if we ignore that of merely personal 'pro-British' or 'pro-German' sentiments) namely (i) the fact that no air raids have as yet been made on British territory so as to illustrate to our people what a modern war really means, and (ii) that our newspapers are not only not pointing out to their readers the undoubted advantages of our position, but are actually publishing and emphasising matter of a most tendentious character from unneutral sources.

2. As an example of the type of journalism which is undermining the public's morale at the present very critical moment, I attach a copy of last night's 'Evening Mail'. I have 'censored' the paper in red ink so as to draw attention to its objectionable features.

3. It is submitted that unless a strong censorship is rigorously imposed on the Press at once, public opinion may get entirely out of control with extremely unfavourable reactions on the Government which in the best interests of the country have adopted the neutrality policy. Apart from that aspect of the matter there is, of course, the danger of divided (or 'unneutral') opinions to public order here. We in the Department must take account of the difficulties that may result in regard to our relations with the diplomatic representatives of the various belligerents, if our newspapers continue to stress foreign war-propagandist 'news' items on prominent pages.

4. Much of the foregoing is true of the official wireless news bulletins from Athlone which still relies entirely on Reuter etc. The Belgian stations take news from all the others; at 11 p.m. last night they quoted the Irish 10.30 news.

5. Our press censorship might also be advised to take example from Belgium and other neutral countries. Even the United States (judging from its radio broadcasts) are obviously endeavouring to remain strictly objective regarding the present state of war in Europe.

6. I attach a few suggested 'Rules for Press Censorship'1 in order to indicate what appears to be lacking at present.

1 Not printed.

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