740.0011 European War 1939/19412

The Irish Minister (Brennan) to the Secretary of State

The Minister of Ireland presents his compliments to the Honourable the Secretary of State and, on the instruction of his Government, has the honour to transmit herewith a Statement made by Mr. De Valera in Dublin on January 27th 1942, and issued by the Government.

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In reply to the Press Mr. de Valera stated today that the Irish Government had not been consulted either by the British Government or the American Government with regard to the coming of the American troops to the six counties.

Everyone knew, he said, that Ireland had 20 years ago been partitioned and the six counties cut off from the rest of the country by an act of the British Parliament despite the expressed will of the Irish people.

When the United States was entering the last war President Wilson declared that America meant to fight for democracy and for the right of peoples to national self determination. The Irish people took him at his word and in the general elections of December 1918 by an overwhelming vote (more than three for, to one against) declared for national independence and for the establishment of a Republic. This decision was reaffirmed after two years of conflict with Britain, in the general elections of 1921, when the partition candidates returned were less than one-fourth of the total representation.

Nevertheless the British Government cut the nation in two and set up a separate Parliament for six of the thirty-two counties. These six counties formed no natural, historic or geographic entity. The area was chosen solely with a view to securing a majority within it for the anti-national minority. In one-half of the area including the city of Derry the whole territory adjoining the boundary with the twenty-six counties, a majority of the inhabitants are against partition.

To partition the territory of an ancient nation is one of the crudest wrongs that can be committed against a people. The partition of Ireland is in essence not different from the former partition of Poland, nor are the evils that flow from it less in kind than those Abraham Lincoln foresaw from the projected partition of the United States, when he determined to prevent it even at the cost of fighting one of the bitterest civil wars in history.

The people of Ireland have no feeling of hostility towards and no desire to be brought in any way into conflict with the United States. For reasons which I referred to a few weeks ago, the contrary is the truth, but it is our duty to make it clearly understood that no matter what troops occupy the six counties, the Irish peoples claim for the union of the whole national territory and for supreme jurisdiction over it, will remain unabated.

Four years ago the British Government recognized fully the sovereignty of the Irish nation over that part of the national territory included in the twenty-six counties and the bond has been honorably kept in that regard. But the maintainance of the partition of Ireland is as indefensible as aggressions against small nations elsewhere which [Page 758] it is the avowed purpose of Great Britain and the United States in this war to bring to an end.