Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Minister of Ireland called upon me this afternoon at his request. He left with me the attached “Pocket Guide to Northern Ireland” published by the War Department and a memorandum26 which covers the points mentioned by the Minister in our conversation.

In substance the Irish Government protests against the passage on pages 10 and 11 of the “Pocket Guide” which states, “Eire’s neutrality is a real danger to the Allied cause. There, just across the Irish Channel from embattled England, and not too far from your own billets in Ulster, the Axis nations maintain large legations and staffs. [Page 769] These Axis agents send out weather reports, find out by espionage what is going on in Ulster”. The Irish Government desired this Government to know that it was convinced that the Axis missions in Dublin were doing nothing they should not be doing and that the Irish authorities by constant surveillance and the use of detectors knew that the Axis missions were not sending out any radio reports and that the only reports being sent out had to pass by a cable which went through England. The Irish Government therefore requested that the portion of the “Pocket Guide” which it considered objectionable be deleted.

I asked the Minister if he thought the Axis governments could seriously be keeping staffs of considerable size in Dublin to be doing nothing more than their legitimate business. I also told him that while I was not an expert in the matter, I did have a good deal of experience with regard to the operation of clandestine radio stations and I had never yet gained the impression from the experts of this Government that clandestine stations could not operate from time to time without detection. I said it seemed to me that the two facts that I had mentioned would very decidedly support the statements contained in the “Pocket Guide” of which the Irish Government complained. I said, however, that in as much as this was a matter which directly concerned the War Department I would refer the Minister’s complaint to the War Department in order that I might obtain the War Department’s views.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Not printed.