No. 74 NAI DFA 227/100

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to John Leydon (Dublin)

Dublin, 18 November 1939

Dear Leydon,

I have your letter of the 16th November1 relating to correspondence, etc. about the exclusion of Ireland from the 'combat area'. I quite understand that your Department would not wish to encourage a development which might involve us in contraband difficulties. At the same time, my Minister is so anxious to obtain the fullest possible recognition of the United States for our neutrality that he feels our exclusion from the 'combat area' would be an advantage altogether out-weighing the inconveniences of having to take measures to prevent contraband trading by the American ships which would enter our waters. I do not think there is any conflict there. The State Department seem to be fully alive to the dangers of trans-shipment and re-export, and the Assistant Secretary of State mentioned trans-shipment as one of the considerations weighing with the American Government against the exclusion of Ireland. Even if only one or two American ships a month came here, the principle of recognition would be sufficiently established.

As you know, my Minister wishes to stop contraband trade in any form which could be regarded as a departure from the particular kind of neutrality which circumstances enable us to observe. He would be very worried indeed if any basis were given to public rumour that we were not observing that neutrality. He believes that our ability to face any crisis that may arise during the war depends on maintaining the general goodwill of the people, which has been secured by the manner in which our neutrality has been observed so far. You can therefore understand that small and occasional departures from the present neutrality routine which would give rise to the belief that they were part of a system, would do just as much harm to public opinion as if that conclusion were justified.

I gathered from a chat with Cudahy yesterday evening, and indeed from all we have heard from Brennan, that there is no chance of our being excluded from the 'combat area'.

Yours sincerely,
[stamped] (Signed) J.P. Walshe

1 Not printed.

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