740.0011 European War 1939/18977: Telegram

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

7. Public discussion of Eire’s neutrality and of proposals inviting American protection is strictly forbidden but interest in the subject among pro-British and pro-American groups appears to be growing inspired by both material and spiritual considerations. It must be clearly understood that these groups have no political strength and while present conditions prevail will be unable to formulate publicly their viewpoint. In substance they recommend that the American Government address an appeal to the Irish Government and people as follows:

“We have done much for you in the past and have always believed that if we needed help you would be the first to offer it. We need help now. In return for the use of facilities needful to winning the battle of the Atlantic in which you also are vitally interested we propose: (1) To arm you as fully as possible for the protection of your cities and airfields; (2) to contribute to your food and industrial requirements; (3) to pay cash for lease of bases; (4) to guarantee return of the same; (5) to use our good offices for the ending of partition; (6) to consider such other proposals as you may choose to make in the case that these are not satisfactory.”

Their plan provides that the above are to be submitted first secretly to the Irish Prime Minister with this understanding that the American Government reserves the right to publish them if they are refused. It is believed in this way that in the event the Irish Government rejected them the matter would be forced before the Irish Parliament and people in which case either Mr. de Valera would be overruled or the country divided with the majority supporting the proposals.

In my view as long as trans-Atlantic transport can be maintained with protection from bases in Northern Ireland as at present it would, be a mistake to change our policy. We have the good will of a majority of the Irish people; an important factor in the case of German attack. Intervention would presumably provoke at the least official resistance and the hostility of a bitter and reckless minority. The Army probably would be loyal to de Valera. But in the case that circumstances made a change of policy inevitable the line suggested above by Irishmen friendly to our cause appears to be sound. It is unlikely that there will be hunger this year except as a result of bad administration and distribution. If Britain and the United States were unable longer to spare for Ireland petroleum products and coal the life of the country would shortly be dislocated and the illusion of self-sufficiency and isolation dispelled. It does not appear that the withholding of supplies needed by Britain excites resentment. [Page 753] Ireland herself forbids the export of all commodities needed for home consumption and makes no sacrifices. I would repeat my recommendation of token concessions of arms and supplies (publicly announced) when and if possible to keep the good will of the Army chiefs and the people.