841D.24/70: Telegram

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

75. Saturday, July 18, I called upon the Prime Minister at his request.

[Page 244]

He asked me if I could explain the meaning of the remark attributed to the President to the effect that he had no proof that arms supplied to Ireland would be used against the Germans. Mr. de Valera had intimated in the Dail the day before that I must know of his repeated public assurances that Ireland would resist any aggressor. I told him that the reported text of all his pronouncements on this subject had been sent to Washington with the comment that there was no doubt that he meant what he said. Further, that I had never in my despatches to you discussed the subject of undertakings except as I had discussed them with him relative to my personal change of position regarding obtaining arms for Ireland as set out in the memorandum of my conversation with him on January 22,33 a copy of which he has. I said that I had no knowledge as to whether the President made the observation in question and that if he had made it I had no information as to its having any special significance beyond its plain meaning. He stressed the point that it seemed unreasonable to34 further undertakings he had repeatedly made in public think there is a possibility that if there were arms available and the condition of obtaining them was an explicit agreement to be in the war full associate affording purpose of facilities except expeditionary forces, the moment was attacked by Germany he would [?]

I suggested that without [apparent omission] but judging from the unfolding of events it looked as if the British with American technical employees intended to make a fortress of Ulster and not to concern themselves further about Ireland, that the help that we mentioned was not infantry for the defense of the island but air and sea bases for the battle of the Atlantic. He asked me if I thought we contemplated taking over base in Ulster. I said that all I knew was what I read in the papers attributed to Mr. Willkie,35 but that I would not say that it might not be a possibility. He said that in that case his Government would be concerned since, although they recognized the de facto occupation of the six counties by Great Britain, they could not waive their right of sovereignty over that territory. I said that this was a suggestion which I could not entertain and one which he must take up with you through his own Minister. I took occasion to try to impress upon the Prime Minister, what I have tried to impress upon other members of his Government and opposition without success, that the Irish extremists in America along with other anti-British groups were creating the impression that Ireland was anti-British and that Mr. Aiken’s addresses to them had strengthened this impression and that he must prepare himself for [Page 245] a very general loss of American sympathy if nothing worse. He appeared unaware of the possibilities latent in an investigation of these subversive groups.

  1. Not printed, but see telegram No. 14, January 25, 5 p.m., from the Minister in Ireland, p. 217.
  2. The remainder of this sentence is apparently garbled.
  3. Wendell Willkie, Republican candidate for President in 1940.