740.00116 E.W./9–2144: Telegram

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

151. ReDeptel 179, September 19, 175, September 16, and reLegtel 150, September 20.48 Pursuant to instructions, at 11 this morning I was received by the Irish Prime Minister49 and requested assurances that his Government would not harbor Axis war criminals. I had prepared as aide-mémoire a digest of your instructions. This I left with him after reading it to him and explaining that it was the essence of my instructions. His reply was that this involved a question of principle and that he must consider his answer. I said that we made it clear that we were not disputing the right of asylum. He said that he understood that. His manner was courteous but very bleak and sour. It was evident that he wished to give the answer no. A yes answer involves abandonment of the essence of his policy of neutrality which is his political ace. The question is whether his Cabinet would support him now in a new line. I think the betting odds are that he will say no but I venture no forecast.

After my conference with De Valera I called on Maffey. He told me that his Government had telegraphed him that they wished to participate in our representations and were wiring Halifax. He had tried to reach me pursuant to his instructions but failed as I had left the Legation. I gave him a copy of the aide-mémoire. He is informing his Government of my action and proposing that he make British representations in the sense of the aide-mémoire which is the digest of your instructions.

Despatch with full report and text of aide-mémoire goes by air courier tomorrow.50

Repeated to London as No. 49.

  1. Telegram 150 not printed.
  2. Eamon de Valera.
  3. Not printed.