Volume 5 1936~1939

Doc No.

No. 95 NAI DFA 105/46

Letter from Charles Bewley to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Berlin, 7 October 1937

I beg to refer to my minute of 28th September1 requesting you to ask the Minister for instructions on the points therein contained, and your minute dated 1st October2.

  1. I note that instructions will be sent me with regard to the official communication to the German Foreign Office of the alteration of the name of the State from Saorstát Éireann to Éire.
  2. You state that only such further explanations should be given to the German Foreign Office as are obvious from the articles of the Constitution. I presume that the succinctness of this answer was due to your anxiety to reply promptly to my question, for which I am duly grateful. At the same time, I must point out that 'obvious' is a purely relative term, and that I have had no indication from you what are considered its 'obvious' effects. I shall be glad of instructions on this point.
  3. I note that I am to state in response to inquiries that relations of Éire to Great Britain are improving since the removal of Mr. Thomas, and that Great Britain's new determination not to seek to interfere in our affairs is creating a better atmosphere. I am of course more than pleased to hear of this new development, of which I had seen no mention in the Press and which the Department now mentions to me for the first time. As I had, in response to inquiries about Great Britain's interference in our affairs, been in the habit of referring to the British penal duties on Irish goods, the British occupation of Irish ports, and similar matters, I shall be obliged if you will inform me what instances I should give illustrating Great Britain's new determination not to seek to interfere in our affairs.
  4. You state that no doubt the type of inquirer who wishes to know about Éire's probable position in the case of a war 'will meet with the type of treatment he deserves' at my hands. I am sorry that I do not altogether apprehend your meaning. The question of the right of Éire to remain neutral in wars in which Great Britain is concerned is one which greatly interests foreign opinion, which cannot be expected to be familiar with the constitutional position. I should have thought that it would be proper to inform inquirers that Éire has an absolute right to remain neutral under the Constitution, and that the question how it would make use of such right could naturally only be determined according to the circumstances at the time. I shall be glad to hear from you whether such an answer should be given.

[signed] C. Bewley