Volume 6 1939~1941

Doc No.

No. 64 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P4

Code telegram from Joseph P. Walshe to John J. Hearne (Ottawa)
(No. 16) (Copy)

Dublin, 31 October 1939

Secretary writing you on general neutrality situation as requested 12th October. Important to convey, whenever appropriate, following indisputable facts, one, in deciding for neutrality Government were exercising sovereign rights as were Governments of Canada or France when declaring war; two, in state of national sentiment and interest no other policy possible here at outbreak of war; three, after two months' hostilities Irish churches, press and people are virtually unanimously in favour of indefinite maintenance of policy. You need not unduly emphasise that from legal standpoint no general enactment yet made equivalent to formal declaration of neutrality. Ireland's position however officially notified to all belligerents and to European Governments in direct diplomatic relations. An extensive code of emergency law achieved during recent weeks under which neutrality policy being effectively administered. Emergency measures relate Irish neutral shipping and trade, military and political censorship, aliens (including aliens formerly exempt), currency and prices problems, supplies and rationing, etc.

The most important measures remaining to be made will concern, one, naval and air forces of belligerents, to which provisions of Hague Convention (No. XIII) 1907 and other generally accepted rules of international law will apply; two, will penalise unneutral acts committed by persons in jurisdiction. Meanwhile Government have formally indicated to belligerents their intentions in first foregoing matter. You may, therefore, assume where incidents such as that referred to in your paragraph one occur without protest Irish Government consider no infringement of law or neutrality policy committed. In connection with Kerry incident,1 you should read Article 22, paragraph 2, of the Proces-Verbal, 1936, relating to Part IV of London Naval Treaty, 1930. Crew of Greek merchantmen were presumably landed in accordance with that Treaty provision, humanitarian object of which appreciated by Irish Government. In general, Irish Government desire exclusion belligerent submarines from Irish waters and are prepared to use every means at their disposal to enforce.

1 On 3 October 1939 U-35 torpedoed the Greek steamer Diamantis off Land's End, having taken the twenty-eight members of the crew onboard prior to sinking the ship. The crew members were ferried ashore close to Ventry harbour, Kerry.