No. 19 NAI DFA Secretary's Files A75

Aide mémoire to British, French and German governments regarding
restrictions on the use of Ireland's territorial waters

Dublin, 12 September 1939

The Government of Ireland, in order to ensure and maintain the neutral status of Ireland during the present state of War in Europe, have decided to place immediate restrictions on the use of Ireland's territorial waters, ports and roadsteads by vessels of war, whether surface or submarine craft, belonging to the belligerent Powers. They intend, moreover, to prohibit the entry into Irish jurisdiction of belligerent military aircraft.

2. The Government of Ireland propose to apply, generally, to belligerent surface war vessels the rules laid down in Convention (No. XIII) concerning the rights and duties of neutral Powers in naval war, which was signed at the Hague on the 18th October, 1907. Accordingly, they have decided to prohibit within the territorial waters, ports and roadsteads of Ireland, all warlike operations on the part of any belligerent vessel armed for war, including belligerent surface vessels which are not naval war vessels, but which carry armaments other than armaments of a purely defensive character. The right to sojourn within the territorial waters, ports or roadsteads of Ireland will be prohibited until further notice to all such belligerent vessels armed for war. Exception may be made only in certain well-recognised cases of distress or necessity for periods of time not exceeding, as a general rule, a period of twenty-four hours.

3. The Government of Ireland have further decided, in accordance with the practice of other neutral Governments, to prohibit to all belligerent submarines armed for war the right to navigate or sojourn in Irish territorial waters, ports or roadsteads. Exception may be made only in cases where such submarines are forced to enter Irish waters due to severe damage amounting to disablement. In such cases, belligerent submarines must navigate on the surface and display conspicuously their national flag and other identification marks. Such submarines, in the event of salvage, will be interned until the cessation of the hostilities.

4. The Government of Ireland, relying on the principle enunciated in Article 1 of the International Convention for Air Navigation, 1919, whereby the air space above the territory and territorial waters of a State shall be recognised as within its complete and exclusive sovereignty, propose to prohibit all military aircraft belonging to the belligerent Powers from entering the jurisdiction of Ireland

5. Pending the making of appropriate Orders to give effect to the aforementioned proposals, the Government of Ireland desires to make them generally known to the ……………… Government. The text of the Orders will be duly forwarded as soon as the Orders are made.

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