740A.56/2–453: Despatch

No. 717
The Chargé in Ireland (Huston) to the Department of State

No. 387
  • Subject: Request of Irish Government for Military Equipment for Training Purposes.

There is transmitted herewith a copy of a Note received from the Department of External Affairs dated January 30, 1953,1 requesting the Embassy to transmit to the appropriate United States authorities two copies of an “order” prepared by the Department of Defence2 for certain military equipment required by the Irish Defence Forces for training purposes. The two copies of the order in question, a signed original and one other, are likewise enclosed with this despatch.

Officials of the Irish Department of Defence discussed their need for this equipment some weeks ago with the Embassy’s Army Attaché, Colonel Harold D. Kehm, who in response to his query to the United States Department of the Army received the following comment:

“The Government of Ireland is not cleared for direct negotiation and purchase from the Department of the Army. An Irish request to purchase the material should be forwarded through diplomatic channels to the U.S. Department of State.”

The Embassy advised Colonel Kehm at the time that the appropriate channel through which it could receive such a request would be the Department of External Affairs, and he advised representatives of the Department of Defence accordingly.

Colonel Kehm has informed the Embassy that the equipment in question is required for use in civil defense training, and it his impression that most of the items are training models or obsolescent in type. Being well acquainted with the work of the Civil Defence School, which he feels is doing good work, he recommends approval of the request as evidence of good will and as a useful measure in view of the purpose which the equipment is intended to serve. He has informed the Embassy that the order forms are the normal legal order and contract forms used by the Irish Department of Defence, adding that the space for the addressee has been left blank [Page 1560] because neither he nor the Irish Department of Defence knew exactly to whom they should be addressed.

The Department will recall that on several occasions during the past two or three years, and particularly a year ago in the course of negotiations for the continuance of the ECA program in Ireland under the provisions of the Mutual Security Act (Embassy’s Despatch no. 434, January 10, 1952; see also Department’s telegram 123, May 23, 19523), Ireland has indicated its desire to purchase arms in the United States. No specific list has, however, ever been received from the Irish Government, presumably because of its realization that the supply of such arms would necessarily involve some form of undertaking or commitment relating to the Mutual Security Act, with which the Irish Government, because of Partition and its policy of neutrality, has indicated its unwillingness to be associated in any way.

In view of the nature of the equipment desired and the small quantity involved, as well as the purpose for which it is intended, the Embassy inclines to share the view of the Army Attaché that favorable consideration of the present request would be desirable as a gesture of good will and as an indication of a generally friendly and helpful American attitude toward this country. It is accordingly recommended that the Irish request be given sympathetic consideration and that an attempt be made to provide the limited equipment required provided it is available, not subject to prior needs, and capable of being delivered without reference to the provisions of the Mutual Security Act. It may be added that the Embassy entertains no doubt that the Irish Government would reject any arrangement whereby its acceptance of the equipment could be construed as implying any endorsement of the purposes of the MSA Act, would carry any reference thereto, or might involve any kind of commitment or undertaking under its provisions.

The Embassy has acknowledged the Note from the Department of External Affairs and indicated that the request for the desired equipment is being transmitted to the appropriate authorities in the United States.4

Cloyce K. Huston
  1. Note No. 341/57, not printed. (740A.56/2–453)
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Neither printed. (740A.5 MSP/1–1052 and 5–2152)
  4. Embassy acknowledgement not found in Department of State files.