No. 227 UCDA P150/2571

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)
(Most Secret) (Copy No. 1)

Dublin, 15 July 1940

Interview with Sir John Maffey, 4.30 p.m., Monday, July 15th, 1940

The British Representative called to see me at 4.30 (as arranged at his request) last evening. He was accompanied by Mr. Price,1 his Military Adviser. The latter remained only five minutes while Maffey was talking on his first point.

The following is a brief summary of the conversation:-

1. I have already informed you about the suggested visit of Harrison.

2. I spoke at length to Maffey about the anti-Irish propaganda in the British Press up to Wednesday of last week, and its continuance in the American Press in the form of despatches or radio broadcasts from London. I referred in particular to the Press Association message about a supposed military pact between us, and to the pernicious messages from John Steele and Ludwig Lore. Maffey was at first inclined to repeat the arguments with which British Ministers reply to the High Commissioner when he protests against anti-Irish articles in the British press, but, in the end, he admitted that the British Ministry of Information must have been doing things without consulting the Dominions Office. When I referred to a paragraph in an official analysis of foreign broadcasts, which he himself had already read, he further admitted that the stupidity of some people in the Ministry of Information was bad enough to lead them into doing propaganda in America which any ordinary intelligent person would regard as being very much of the boomerang type.

3. I then expressed my great regret at the discovery we had recently made relating to a highly placed officer in the 53rd Division, and I emphasised that such an incident was bound, like the activities of the Ministry for Information, to provoke the deepest suspicion between the two peoples. I reminded him of the assurance he had so frequently given me that he was master of the situation on the British side as far as the channel of communication between the two countries was concerned. He seemed to be genuinely horrified at the espionage episode, and he did not express any desire for the early release of the officer concerned. It may be significant that Maffey asked me not to tell his military aides about this matter.

4. I then went on to speak of Tegart's2 visits. I told him once more of the expressions he had been known to use and of his efforts to persuade 'deputies' of the folly of our neutrality. I said that the frequency of Tegart's visits, the extreme facility with which he was allowed to pass to and fro (in contrast to the great difficulties experienced by other travellers the legitimacy of whose business was more apparent), and the persistence with which he adhered to a course in which he, as an individual, could have only a passing interest, were giving grounds for the suspicion that he was being used by the Ministry of Information. I then told Maffey that such efforts on the part of Tegart or any other 'agent', if continued, would render his position here as the Official Representative of Great Britain quite impossible. Certain people, not members of the Government, were already beginning to suspect a serious intention on the part of his Government to interfere in our internal affairs. I knew perfectly well that he, Maffey, knew our history well enough to realise that such methods were foredoomed to failure. And I did not merely mean that the efforts themselves would be unsuccessful; the very fact of their being made would render fruitless all the splendid work he had done to establish the relations between the two countries on a basis of real friendship and understanding. At this, Maffey turned to me quite earnestly and said that he was in a real difficulty about these 'agents'. He would be very grateful to me if I instructed Dulanty to go to Caldecote and tell him not to send Tegart or any other 'agent' here in future, that they were doing nothing but harm, etc. He begged me not to mention his name in this connection, as he felt his position would not allow him to object to such missions. I was naturally amazed at this sudden complete avowal of the truth. It quite clearly arose from his conviction, however belated, that a very grave error of judgment had been made.

[signed] J.P. Walshe

1 Major M.H. Pryce, Military Attaché, British Representative's Office, Dublin (1940-2).

2 Sir Charles Tegart was a native of Derry, educated at Trinity College Dublin, and a prominent senior member of the Indian police service (1901-36); served on the Council of India (1931-37); organised the Palestine Police Service (1937). On retirement he worked in Ireland for British intelligence, returning with stories of U-boat incursions and IRA preparations for a German invasion.

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