740.0011 European War 1939/21118⅓

The Irish Minister (Brennan) to the Acting Secretary of State

Sir: I desire to refer to your communication of February 26, 1942 in which you gave me the text of a personal message which the President requested be cabled to Mr. De Valera. The message was duly [Page 761] cabled, and Mr. De Valera has now requested me to have the following message transmitted to the President.

“Dear Mr. President:

I wish to thank you for your personal message sent through the Acting Secretary of State and duly conveyed to me by our Minister, Mr. Brennan. Your assurance that there was not, and is not now, the slightest thought or intention of invading Irish territory or threatening Irish security has relieved an anxiety which was unfortunately developing into tension. I thank you sincerely for that assurance which is so much in accord with the tradition of American principles and, indeed, your own enunciation of them.

“As you are aware, the partition of Ireland by Britain has for the past 20 years been the outstanding cause of difference between the two countries, and is now the one obstacle to that final reconciliation which well-wishers of both countries have so much desired and for which we ourselves have so long and earnestly striven. Britain’s exercise of sovereignty over our six North-Eastern counties is repugnant to national sentiment here, and is deeply resented by the overwhelming majority of the Irish people. The American Government’s seemingly unreserved recognition of that sovereignty, by sending its soldiers to the disputed territories without any reference to the Irish Government, appeared to be a taking of sides and a worsening of Ireland’s position vis-à-vis Britain, which the Irish Government could not but deplore. In the interests of good relations between Ireland and America, which have been so uniformly cordial and happy, the Irish Government would have advised against the sending of the troops had they had an opportunity of expressing their views. Fears that the movement of American troops into the Six Counties might be a preliminary to an attack upon our position in this part of Ireland are happily dispelled by your explicit assurance to the contrary.

“One matter, however, continues to give us concern. The young men of Ireland will defend their country’s liberty to the end if it be attacked. But modern equipment is required to preserve the high degree of confidence in their ability to do so effectively, which it is desirable to maintain. Since this war began, and even before that, as you know, we have endeavoured to secure this equipment from the United States, as well as from Britain. Unfortunately, except for the inadequate quantity recently received, our efforts have remained without success. As neither Britain nor the United States intend to attack us, it seems folly to leave in any way insecure so important a position as ours, when there are on the spot a quarter of a million men of the best fighting quality, ready and able to make it secure if proper weapons are put into their hands. I have repeatedly explained to your Minister here, and to the British representative, my views in this regard, and I trust you may be able to reconsider your decision and make the necessary equipment available for purchase without delay. The effect upon the spirit of our people would be incalculable as would be the resulting improvement in feeling towards Great Britain.

“May I express to you, Mr. President, my most sincere good wishes and my sympathy with you in the anxieties and burdens which you are called upon to bear.”

Accept [etc.]

Robt. Brennan