Volume 8 1945~1948

Doc No.

No. 25 NAI DFA 417/33 Part 1

Extracts from a memorandum by Michael Rynne on Irish membership of the United Nations

Dublin, 23 October 1945

  1. Deputy Dillon's Question down for Thursday, 25th October,1 was doubtless inspired by the news that the new Organisation will hold its first formal meeting on the 4th December next. By that date all the original signatories ought [to] have ratified the Charter. So far, 40 States out of the 48 have ratified, and about half of these have deposited their ratifications with the United States Government.
  2. It is improbable that any ex-neutral will attend the forthcoming London meeting. So far as we know, none of them are certain to apply for membership so soon. Switzerland, we learn confidentially from the Legation in Berne, may apply for membership of the new International Court of Justice, and, of course, a last-minute approach from Sweden or Portugal cannot be entirely ruled out as a bare possibility. Spain is quite definitely not going forward since every application for membership is subject to the vote of the Great Powers and Spain has already been vetoed by the Potsdam Conference.
  3. Our chances of being accepted into the Organisation at an early stage - if we endorsed the Atlantic Charter and put in an application - would probably be good. We were told so much by the High Commissioner in London, quoting an authoritative source, last August.2 We have no enemies on the Security Council at the moment (even Russia would scarcely oppose an Irish application just now), and the friendly attitude of the Government to any Organisation 'which promises to be an effective instrument for peace and accords to all nations a fundamental equality of right' (Taoiseach at Sligo, 20/5/45) must be well known to everyone.3
  4. An immediate application might, however, be premature for a number of fairly obvious reasons. So far, we have only been able to judge of the Organisation on paper, and there is much in the Charter to raise doubts in our minds. In theory at least, it would look as though a small State joining the United Nations must irretrievably abandon its national security, not to say part of its sovereignty, to a Military Committee staffed by the Great Powers. Article 43 of the Charter seems to indicate that membership of the United Nations would result at least in the concession of naval and air bases on Irish territory for use in another Great Power war.

[matter omitted]

In practice, membership of the new world-organisation might not involve such great risks as we anticipate from reading the Charter and viewing the present world situation, but it is clearly too soon to form any optimistic, final opinion. By the time the United Nations has met for the second time (probably about April, 1946), we should be in a better position to judge from its actual operations (the kind of military and regional pacts concluded, etc.) just what membership entails in reality.

1 See Dáil Debates, vol. 98, cols 613-14, 25 October 1945.

2 This source remains unidentified.

3 De Valera, speaking in Sligo on 20 May 1945 while reviewing the Emergency Services, emphasised the security of small nations and the importance of preserving neutrality after the Second World War.