740.0011 European War 1939/7522: Telegram

The Minister in Ireland ( Gray ) to the Secretary of State

7. President’s broadcast of January 61 prominently displayed in Dublin newspapers. No editorial comment except in pro-British Irish Times and that denatured. We get the impression that the speech is widely resented as a slap at Ireland. My I. R. A.2 friends denounce it and this extremist opinion generally colors moderate majority opinion in controversial matters relating to Great Britain. The Republicans are certain that British airplanes did the recent bombings and a general majority appear to think it probable. Will report later on reaction to speech in Government circles. One gets better information by not asking questions.

In interview with Prime Minister3 on Monday4 at his request he said that he was hoping to get 5 or 6 American ships of a lot which he had been informed were to be sold. I said that I had no knowledge of the matter but felt it might be helpful if I expressed my personal opinion frankly about his Christmas broadcast in which he asked his friends to get him arms and wheat; that it appeared to be an attempt to put the pressure of the Irish-American vote on the Government; that he knew that he would resent such an effort on our part to go over his head in Ireland. He disclaimed any such intention and said he would not have done it before election. I said that I viewed with personal regret and foreboding the diverging courses of American and Irish sympathies as regards aid for Great Britain. I said that it was not so much the fact of Irish neutrality as the attitude of Irish opinion reported by American newspaper correspondents which aroused regret in the United States. He said that this attitude was a natural consequence of the past. I said that while that was so he had capitalized on hatred of Great Britain for political reasons and so [Page 216] must take some responsibility for existing popular state of mind. I told him that I had never had any information direct or indirect suggesting that Great Britain would seize the ports but I asked him whether if a situation developed in which their use meant the [apparent omission] England’s survival and of Ireland and all the Allied Nations now overrun he would consent to cede them. He said that he considered his duty to Ireland not to cede to be paramount. He would go down with the Allies rather than give them. I am not wholly sure that there is not some element of bluff in this stand as I have heard from the Belgian Minister that the Premier expressed the view that if we came in it might make a difference. Memorandum of conversation by pouch.5

  1. Congressional Record, vol. 87, pt. 1, p. 44.
  2. Irish Republican Army.
  3. Eamon de Valera.
  4. January 6.
  5. Not printed.