No. 164 NAI DFA 205/4

Memorandum from Joseph P. Walshe to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)

London, 30 April 1940

Note for the Minister's information1

(1) During the last three or four weeks it has been persistently rumoured that in the course of one of his talks, the German announcer known as 'Lord Haw-Haw'2 made a statement to the effect that 'Ireland is at present a garden of roses, but she will very soon become a garden of tombstones if by trying to increase her exports of food to Britain, she involves herself in the war'.

(2) The Department has been unable to obtain any confirmation of this report. The various members of the Department listen very frequently to the broadcasts from Germany, and none of them has heard any recent unfriendly references to this country. On the receipt of the present question we asked the Legation at Berlin for particulars of any unfriendly references of which they had knowledge. Mr. Warnock has reported that neither he nor any of the other Irish people in Berlin know of any recent unfriendly references to Ireland on the German radio. The B.B.C. maintains a twenty-four-hour 'monitor' service which listens to and records all broadcasts of talks and news from Germany. They told the High Commissioner's Office that the only recent reference to Ireland of which they have record is the statement made on the 20th April in the course of a talk from the 'new British broadcasting station' (which is supposed to be in German territory), to the effect that 'Ireland will probably try to fill Denmark's place in the British market, but if she does, she will insist on getting a good price'.

(3) Although there is thus no official evidence to support the report of recent unfriendly references to Ireland in German broadcasts, it is of course not possible to state definitely that no such references were made. On the other hand, the possibility cannot be excluded that the reports now circulating are pure inventions put about by mischief-makers and circulated by people with no means of checking their accuracy. Last September Deputy P.S. Doyle3 questioned the Taoiseach about a supposed reference in a German broadcast to 'Éire sheltering under Mr. Chamberlain's umbrella'. Mr. Doyle gave the time of the supposed broadcast and the name of the German station from which it was supposed to have been made. When we subsequently made enquiries in Berlin, the Germans flatly denied that any such reference had occurred in any of their broadcasts. They sent the German Minister in Dublin to the Department to repeat the denial. The report, which was very persistent, would appear to have been quite inaccurate.

(4) The draft reply refers Deputy Norton4 to the reply made by the Taoiseach to Deputy Doyle last September, which seems to cover the ground very fully. But in view of the fact that we have recently been making representations to the British authorities about unfriendly references to this country in the British press,5 it seems better that the remainder of the reply should discount the prevailing rumours rather than indicate any unwillingness to make representations to the German Government if the rumours were thought to be correct.

(5) The only foreign broadcasts which are systematically listened to and recorded by this Department are the Sunday evening broadcasts in Irish from Germany.

(6) If Deputy Norton challenges the reply, he might perhaps be told that the reply is as complete as it can be made on the information disclosed in his question, but that if he will furnish the Minister with full particulars of the unfriendly references he has in mind such further enquiries as are possible will be made.

1 This note was prepared in response to Deputy William Norton's Dáil question to de Valera of 30 April 1940. Deputy James Hickey (Labour) asked the question for Norton in Norton's absence (see Dáil Debates, vol. 79, col. 1945, 30 Apr. 1940).

2 William Joyce 'Lord Haw-Haw' (1906-46), British Fascist who had grown up in Ireland and who made radio propaganda broadcasts to Britain from Germany from 1939 to 1945. Executed for treason in 1946.

3 Peadar S. Doyle, Fine Gael TD for Dublin South-West.

4 William Norton (1900-63), Leader of the Labour Party (1932-60).

5 See Nos 132 and 154.

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