No. 259  NAI 2006/39

Extract from a confidential report from John W. Dulanty to
Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 5) (Secret)

LONDON, 8 January 1943

In trying to obtain from this country supplies of Sulphate of Ammonia and other commodities, in return for our proposed export to Britain of barley in the form of Guinness's Stout, I have met with the suggestion from a well-informed (though non-political) source that one difficulty in getting the proposal through – apart from the urgent need of the British themselves of getting these articles for direct war purposes – was the unwillingness of the British Prime Minister to approve any exchange arrangement with us.

When I dropped a hint of this to a member of the Cabinet he was emphatic in his statement that there was no ground for such a view.

The Cabinet as a body, he said, very seldom met nowadays and when they did they would not have proposals of this character before them and in no circumstances would such proposals ever reach the War Cabinet – the only Body with which the Prime Minister was closely and regularly associated and where his influence was dominant. Questions of the character I had in mind and, indeed, questions of much greater importance from their point of view, were dealt with by the Ministers concerned or when, as in the present case more than one Department was concerned, by a Committee or Sub-Committee of the Cabinet.

I said that some time ago I had heard a reference to the existence of an Éire Committee of the Cabinet. Would not the Prime Minister be in touch with the working of that Body? The reply I had was that in the earlier days of the present Government he thought such a Committee did exist, on paper at least, but he doubted whether it had functioned for many months past.

'No' he continued 'Churchill is not anti-Irish. He grieves of course, as a lot of others do, that the ports were handed over when they were. But being a realist he accepts the situation. Today your neutrality is less irksome to people generally, for I think it is more generally recognised now than formerly that in the past the English had treated the Irish badly, but, as Cardinal Newman once said "we are bad sinners but good repenters” and I think, therefore, that when the war is over we can surely find some solution of the only real problem between us, which is of course partition.'

'Reverting to Churchill, only the other day I heard him talking to a few Americans and emphasising that we had at least 150,000 of your people voluntarily in our war services and' my informant said with a smile 'he went on to say that in proportion to the population you had sent more men than Ulster'.

[matter omitted]

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