No. 59 NAI DT S11007A

Minutes by Maurice Moynihan of an inter-departmental conference
'Admission of Aliens'
(Strictly Confidential)

Dublin, 21 December 1945

  1. In pursuance of the Government's decision of the 14th December, 1945,1 the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice had a discussion on the 15th December with representatives of the Departments of External Affairs, Industry and Commerce and Justice with a view to laying down lines of policy in regard to the admission of aliens on the basis of which specific proposals could be prepared by the Departments referred to, acting in consultation. The officials present were the following:-
    • Mr. J.P. Walshe, Secretary, D/External Affairs.
    • Mr. F.H. Boland, Asst. Secretary, D/External Affairs.
    • Mr. W. Maguire, Asst. Secretary, D/Industry & Commerce.
    • Mr. J. Duff, Assistant Secretary, D/Justice.
    • Mr. M. Moynihan, Secretary to the Government, was also in attendance.

General Policy

  1. The Taoiseach explained the attitude of the Government as being that our policy towards this problem should be liberal and generous, due regard being had to our own interests in regard to certain matters, such as employment, foreign relations and the necessity for excluding undesirable persons. Subject to the necessary safeguards in these respects we should be as helpful as possible and we should try positively to give asylum to aliens seeking refuge in existing circumstances. Mr. Maguire said that his Minister had instructed him to adopt a more liberal attitude than had previously been authorised.

Persons having Special Qualifications

  1. With regard to the admission of persons having special qualifications the Taoiseach said that such persons would include scholars, technical experts, craftsmen and persons with special business knowledge or experience which would be likely to be of advantage to this country.
  2. Mr. Walshe raised the question of whether persons having special qualifications should be admitted only to the extent to which actual opportunities for employing them might exist. The Taoiseach said that it would be well to get a list of such persons, with indications of their special knowledge and experience, for examination in the light of our requirements. Our attitude should be to seek positively to secure the admission of such persons provided that they were of the right types. Mr. Boland, Department of External Affairs, suggested that a statement might be prepared indicating the types of people in this category who would be suitable for admission and whose services would be of advantage to this country. Mr. Maguire said that he thought that his Department would be in a position to prepare such a statement on a tentative basis. This would not mean, however, that any definite promises of employment could be given. The statement would merely indicate the types of people whose services could probably be made use of here.

Polish Children

  1. The question of the admission of Polish children was then referred to and Mr. Walshe described the arrangements already being made in this regard, expressing the view that any Polish children admitted would probably become permanent residents of this country. The Taoiseach said that generally the view of the Government was that we should be prepared to accept greater numbers of children than had hitherto been contemplated.

Polish University Students

  1. As to the admission of Polish University students the Taoiseach said that the Government would be prepared to contemplate say from 20 to 25 students coming here to do University Courses. It was understood that the cost to the State would be about £250 a year for each student. Portion of the £3,000,000 grant for relief in Europe could perhaps be utilised for this purpose. The necessary action for the admission of University students could proceed. It had been suggested that the students should not be brought in until the beginning of the next academic year, but, on the other hand, there might be an advantage in admitting them in the immediate future so that they might settle down and accustom themselves to Irish University conditions. In this regard Mr. Walshe pointed out that any Poles likely to be admitted as University Students would already have a good knowledge of English. Proceeding, Mr. Walshe remarked that if we could arrange for the admission of 20 or, say, 35 to 40 University Students and ultimately 500 Polish children we would have done as much for the Poles as was being done by any other country.

Polish Institute

  1. With regard to the question of the establishment of a Polish Institute the Taoiseach said that in the Government's view this matter would need to be further examined with the greatest care, even if it could be shown that the objects would be purely cultural. There was a danger that such an Institute would become, or would be represented as being, an agency for political propaganda. Before approving of such a proposal the Government would require to be fully alive to all its possible implications. He found it somewhat difficult to visualise what precisely the Institute could accomplish in the matter of preserving Polish culture.
  2. Mr. Walshe said that the proposed Institute was intended to be a purely cultural organisation. It would publish and distribute a review dealing with subjects of interest to scholars.
  3. The Minister for Justice suggested that such an organisation could more suitably and advantageously be established in the USA.
  4. Mr. Walshe said that if serious difficulties were seen in regard to the establishment of a Polish Institute some alternative might be considered, e.g., a Chair might be established for a Polish scholar in one of the University Colleges. The Taoiseach said that if it were a question of religious education arrangements could possibly be made with St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. Whatever might be done in this regard he thought it would be a mistake to profess an object so ambitious as that of preserving Polish culture. If a number of Polish scholars desired to have a retreat in which they could continue their work it might be practicable to make arrangements for this purpose with the Universities. He asked Mr. Walshe to investigate this whole matter further in consultation with representatives of the Poles with a view to seeing what practical steps could be taken.

Persons in a position to support themselves

  1. As to the admission of persons in a position to support themselves, the Taoiseach inquired what precisely was meant by this description, e.g. in what currency would the assets of such people be held? The question of the period for which the means of such persons would be sufficient to support them would also require attention. Mr. Walshe said that there would not be more than a dozen of such persons in question. This number would include Poles and a few Catholic Hungarians. In reply to the Minister for Justice Mr. Walshe expressed the opinion that persons in this category should not be permitted to acquire land. The Taoiseach remarked that the question of allowing them to take temporary lettings or leases of land might possibly be considered.


  1. In summing up the discussion the Taoiseach again emphasised the necessity for a positive and liberal policy. Financial considerations should not be allowed to present an insuperable difficulty. He recognised that anything that might be done for the Poles might also have to be done for people of other nationalities. He would be prepared to contemplate the admission, ultimately, of at least 10,000 aliens. He requested the representatives of the Departments of External Affairs, Industry and Commerce and Justice to consult together as to the practical steps which should be taken to give effect to the Government's policy.

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