740.00/897: Telegram

The Chargé in Ireland (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State

9. Am advised orally that Irish Government is very much hurt because Ireland was not mentioned as separate country in the President’s [Page 136] telegram to Germany and Italy but was included with England in phrase “Great Britain and Ireland” indication impairment of sovereignty.9 Brennan10 has been instructed to protest to Department and Dulanty11 in London will discuss matter informally with Kennedy.12 Because of this and because no copy was sent to Irish Government De Valera13 will issue no statement although the telegram has received favorable editorial comment. Irish Government advised Brennan that copies were only sent to England and France besides Latin American Republics and Canada.

In a speech delivered yesterday afternoon De Valera emphasized Ireland’s sovereignty and determination to remain neutral in case of war. He said “We have established the unquestioned sovereignty of the Irish people over 26 counties of the national territory” and “we have full and undivided control over our affairs, internal and external” and “there is no rule, there is no test, which has ever been laid down for a complete and sovereign state, which our state does not fully possess.” After urging enlistment in the volunteer force he stated “The desire of the Irish people, and the desire of the Irish Government is to keep our nation out of war. The aim of government is to maintain and preserve our neutrality in the event of war. The best way, and the only way to secure our aim, is to put ourselves in the best position possible to defend ourselves, so that no one can hope to attack us, or violate our territory, with impunity.” His only reference to the President’s telegram was a question asking whether it were possible to refuse such a request for non-aggression guarantees.

New Irish passports omit any mention of the King and are issued on sole authority of De Valera as Minister for External Affairs. Irish Ministers will remain in Berlin and Rome in case of war and Ireland will endeavor to maintain neutrality. Besides the strong sentimental reason for dissassociation with England, the maintenance of her neutrality in case of war impels the Irish Government to insist upon it now.

Repeated to London.

  1. For statement regarding this subject made by the Secretary of State to the press on April 20, 1939, see Department of State, Press Releases, April 22, 1939, p. 330.
  2. Robert Brennan, Irish Minister in the United States.
  3. John W. Dulanty, Irish High Commissioner in London.
  4. Joseph P. Kennedy, American Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
  5. Eamon de Valera, Irish Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs.