841D.24/70: Telegram

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

40. Your 75, July 21, 8 p.m. Department received note dated July 15 from Irish Legation on this subject and on July 30 made the following reply:

“The Secretary of State presents his compliments to the Honorable the Minister of Ireland and refers to the Irish Legation’s note dated July 15, 1941 concerning a statement understood to have been made by the President on June 27, 1941 on the attitude of the Irish Government in the event of an attack by Germany. The Irish Minister states that he has been instructed to inquire how the President’s statement is to be interpreted.

The American Government has been aware of the firm policy of the Irish Government, proclaimed by Prime Minister De Valera as early as 1935, not to allow its territory under any conditions whatever to be used as a base of attack against Great Britain. The American Government has also been aware of the determination of the Irish Government, repeatedly declared by Mr. De Valera since the outbreak of hostilities, to defend itself against aggression from any quarter.

The American Government realizes fully the strategic position which Ireland occupies and the constant danger of an attack from Germany either against Ireland alone or as a part of a broader campaign against the whole British Isles. In these circumstances, and in view of the close and traditional friendship between both the peoples and Governments of the United States and Ireland, the American Government has desired at all times to assist in every feasible way the building up of the defenses of Ireland.

The President, however, while not doubting that Ireland would use the means at its disposal to resist any German invasion, has not felt with certainty that Ireland unassisted could successfully repel a determined German attack. In such event, arms provided to Ireland would not only reduce the available supplies so urgently needed by the United States and Great Britain but would in all probability fall into the hands of Germany. The American Government has, therefore, to contemplate the possibility that any effort on its part to assist Ireland by the provision of arms might in the end merely add to the power of the very nation in whose defeat the United States has pledged its full material assistance.

The President has been all the more impressed with this possibility since, according to his understanding, no arrangements have been completed between the Irish and the British Governments, in the way of staff talks or otherwise, for cooperation between their respective forces [Page 246] in repelling any attempted invasion of Ireland by Germany. It is perhaps unnecessary to refer to the long list of countries in Europe which, in the hope of remaining neutral, have neglected their defense plans only to fall victims, one after another, of wanton German aggression.

The Irish Government is already aware of the conclusion reached by the American Government that all military and naval matériel now produced in the United States and not required by the National rearmament program must continue to be made available to the British Empire and to nations engaged in resisting aggression. The American Government perceives no grounds on which it can reach a different decision at this time.”