The Chief of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs (Wailes) to the Minister in Ireland (Gray)
Dear Mr. Gray: I know you share our desire to wind up the problem of repatriating the German officials and agents still in Ireland. We were surprised when you reported that there was a possibility that De Valera might turn over to the British the ten German agents, since I believe none of us had really expected any cooperation from Dev. I gather from your despatch No. 2245 of November 2770 that there is still a possibility of the Irish acceding to the British request if Dev can resolve his differences with the Minister of Justice. The possibility that the German agents might be freed seems to make more urgent a decision by Dev on whether he will return the agents to the British. If you agree, I suggest you urge Maffey to try and get De [Page 822] Valera to make up his mind one way or another. If it appears that he will simply continue to stall, I think we should all send our similar notes. We still would want the British and French to present notes at the same time, of course.
We had not felt strongly on the question of obtaining the cooperation of the Belgians and Dutch on this matter. If they send comparable notes this would increase the pressure on our stubborn friend. We agree in principle with the idea of obtaining their cooperation and, if we get it, well and good.
We have never seen the text of the Anglo-Irish secret agreement with respect to the German agents and have assumed that it made no provision for returning the agents to the British. Is that assumption correct? I note that in your recent conversation with Maffey you stated that “Sir John gave me the impression that in the course of time they (the agents) would be returned to Germany.” Is Maffey just being hopeful about Dev’s attitude or does the agreement place any obligation on the Irish?
I cabled to you yesterday the text of the Secretary’s answer to a question at his press conference about the visa problem in Dublin. The question implied that there was some connection between the backlog of visas and the fact that the Irish had not cooperated on repatriation. I think we nailed any suggestion that there was such a connection. The American press paid very little attention to the matter.
In reviewing this problem we have noted that we have asked the Irish to repatriate three categories of persons—officials, agents, and obnoxious Germans. Obnoxious Germans are somewhat loosely defined as those German nationals who may have aided the German war effort in some way, however minor. We have no information whether there are obnoxious Germans in Ireland. I have assumed that there are. Perhaps you could enlighten us on this.
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