The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )
3874. From the Under Secretary. The Irish Minister called upon me this morning by instruction of his Government. He informed me that in a street battle which took place in Belfast last June a policeman was killed and six young IRA agitators were tried for his murder. He stated that the six were convicted and are to be executed in Belfast next Tuesday, August 18. He stressed the fact that these young men are only 18, 19 and 21 years of age. He said that the Irish Government feels that serious trouble will be created if the sentence is carried out, not only for the British authorities, but also for the Irish Government itself, which, he claims, is doing everything possible to keep down by the most severe measures IRA agitation both in southern and northern Ireland. The Minister, who has just returned from a visit to Dublin, told me that feeling towards Great Britain had improved very greatly in the past months and that the general feeling of the public was that Germany was the real danger to Ireland and not Great Britain. He insists that this favorable trend may be arrested as a result of the agitation which would ensue from the execution of these young men. His Government has asked him to plead for the intercession of this Government.
Please call at the first moment possible upon Mr. Eden17 and inform him of the statements made to me by the Irish Minister, laying the full facts before him. It is left entirely to your own discretion and judgment, as a result of the response which Mr. Eden may make, whether you will wish to interpose on grounds of expediency a suggestion on behalf of this Government that the sentence be commuted to imprisonment. [Welles.]
- Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.↩