841D.01/206: Telegram

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

122. Appreciate receipt via Winant of draft of proposed note to de Valera, reference your number 103 dated September 18, 6 p.m., which the Foreign Service officers and I have been studying.

In our view the Army and Navy approach which asks for facilities if and when they may be required invites the rejoinder that until that contingency arises, if it should arise, he, de Valera, cannot reasonably be expected to formulate a decision on so important a change in his policy. Does not this approach inevitably lead us into a position where we get neither the promise of the desired facilities nor the record of a refusal? Furthermore, may not the extremely mild phrasing mislead him as to the American view of his policy which maintains Axis missions in what is essentially our defense zone and opposes our use of military facilities in Northern Ireland? We agree on the following views as to the Irish situation and as to policy regarding it:

1. That de Valera’s reiterated insistence on neutrality as something noble in itself and vital to Irish survival, the acceptance of that proposition by a majority of the people who are not permitted public discussion of the question together with the strong anti-British and anti-American bias of the extreme Nationalists to whom he defers make it as certain as human forecast can be that he will never yield facilities except to military force or to that degree of economic and political pressure which would disrupt this following.

2. That strong evidence points to the probability that if pressed directly for military facilities he will reply that while the “crime of partition” continues and while a third of the people in Northern Ireland live in “the terror of a foreign tyranny” he could not lead the Irish people into the war even if he wished to.

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3. That it is disadvantageous to us at this time to ignore and waive the grievance of his unfriendly protest against our use of facilities in Northern Ireland as well as the consistently unfriendly attitude of the Government censorship. As long as elements in the Irish Government can exert unfriendly influence without being deprived of supply, the Government is likely to adopt their policy for reasons of internal political expediency.

4. We believe that there is strong evidence that de Valera relies on the grievance of partition as his paramount issue in domestic politics; that he relies on it to gain sympathy in the United States at the peace table; and that he counts on frictions between us and Britain to win support for Eire. There is reason to believe that the subversive American press will be fed from Eire with a formidable anti-partition, anti-British propaganda as the war ends.

The beginning is already under way in certain Irish American newspapers. Since no solution of partition is probable in an appreciable future unless Eire should join us in war and give the requisite guarantees for a common postwar defensive system with Britain, only ceaseless agitation, disorder and growing bitterness are in prospect.

5. Knowing the view of the President held by de Valera and Aiken, his most influential Minister, we feel it is inappropriate that the President should accord him the honor of a personal note, especially since this courtesy will have no influence on him but only strengthen his position with his Cabinet.

I regret that owing to the pressure on you of more important matters you did not have time to explain to me while I was in Washington your appraisal of the effect of Irish pressure groups on Anglo-American relations in the present circumstances. I would gratefully appreciate suggestions for any line of action you thought [think?] desirable in which this Mission could assist.