841D.01/224: Telegram

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

165. The following draft for a note to the Irish Government is presented for your consideration (reference my No. 162 dated December 7, 1 p.m.36). It is designed to obtain military advantage without making commitments and failing that to put de Valera on record in such a manner as would strengthen our defense against pressure group attempts to involve United States in the partition question. It also avoids the presumed British objection to any proposal from which de Valera might derive a claim to a post war position embarrassing to British interests.

I find that Sir John Maffey is in agreement with me as to this draft and I believe that he would recommend it in principle to his Government if consulted. We both feel that this is a serious situation [the solution?] for which is long overdue and the obvious place to begin in any negotiation leading to strengthening our position as regards Eire. We both believe that an unfavorable answer will be returned but that an important political advantage will have been gained. It should be noted that this draft does not preclude further steps whatever [Page 165] may be the Irish reply, yet considered by itself it promises profitable results. Forwarding by air courier despatch with facts supporting charge that Axis representations menace our military interests. Draft follows.

“Your Excellency will recall that in your speech at Cork delivered on the 14th of December 1941 you expressed sentiments of special friendship for the American people on the occasion of their entry into the present war and closed by saying, ‘The policy of the State remains unchanged. We can only be a friendly neutral.’ As you will also recall, extracts of this speech were transmitted to the President by your Minister in Washington and were appreciatively acknowledged.

It has become increasingly apparent that despite your good will and sincere desire that Irish neutrality should operate in favor of neither of the belligerents it has in fact operated and continues to operate in favor of the Axis powers and against the United Nations on whom your security and the maintenance of your national economy depend. One of the gravest and most inequitable results of this situation is the opportunity for highly organized espionage which the geographical position of Eire affords the Axis and denies the United Nations. Situated as you are in close proximity to Britain, divided only by an intangible boundary from Northern Ireland, where are situated important American bases, with continuous traffic to and from both countries, Axis agents enjoy almost unrestricted opportunity for bringing military information of vital importance from England and Northern Ireland into Eire and from there transmitting it by various routes and methods to Germany. No opportunity corresponding to this is open to the United Nations, for the Axis has no military dispositions which may be observed from Eire.

We do not question the good faith of the Irish Government in its efforts to suppress Axis espionage, but existing conditions are such as to make it impossible to suppress. It is naive to assume that Axis agencies have not exploited conditions to the full in Eire as they have in other countries.

As you know from common report, United Nations military operations are in preparation in both Britain and Northern Ireland. It is vital that information from which may be deduced their nature and direction should not reach the enemy. Not only the success of the operations but the lives of thousands of United Nations’ soldiers are at stake.

We request you therefore in your own interest, which is essentially bound up with ours, and as an expression of that friendship and good will which you have freely offered us and which we highly appreciate that, without abandoning your neutrality but rather to make it impartial and truly neutral, you take appropriate steps for the recall of the German and Japanese representatives in Eire.

It is hardly necessary to point out that time is of extreme importance and that we trust Your Excellency will favor us with your reply at your early convenience.”

This telegram has been coded so that it can be repeated to London if you so instruct.

  1. Not printed.