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Irish neutrality during World War II

This article describes Ireland's international relationships during World War II, for internal issues, see: The Emergency
Markings to alert aircraft to neutral Ireland ("Éire" English: "Ireland") during WWII on Malin Head, Co Donegal

The policy of Irish neutrality during World War II was adopted by the Irish parliament at the instigation of the Taoiseach Éamon de Valera upon the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. It was maintained throughout the conflict, in spite of several German air raids by aircraft that missed their intended British targets and attacks on Ireland's shipping fleet by Allies and Axis alike. De Valera refrained from joining either the Allies or Axis powers. While the possibility of not only a German but also a British invasion were discussed in the Dáil, and either eventuality was prepared for, with the most detailed preparations being done in tandem with the Allies under Plan W, De Valera's ruling party, Fianna Fáil, supported his neutral policy for the duration of the war.

This period is known in Ireland as the Emergency, owing to the wording of the constitutional article employed to suspend normal government of the country.

Pursuing a policy of neutrality required attaining a balance between the strict observance of non-alignment and the taking of practical steps to repel or discourage an invasion from either of the two concerned parties.

Despite the official position of neutrality, there were many unpublicised contraventions of this, such as permitting the use of the Donegal Corridor to Allied military aircraft, and extensive co-operation between Allied and Irish intelligence, the exchanges of information, such as detailed weather reports of the Atlantic Ocean; with for example the decision to go ahead with the D-day landings being decided by a weather report from Blacksod Bay, County Mayo.[1]


  • Prewar relationship with Britain 1
  • Internal affairs 2
    • Prelude to war 2.1
    • Ports and trade 2.2
  • External affairs 3
    • Policy 3.1
    • Offer to end the Partition of Ireland in 1940 3.2
    • Mixed effects 3.3
    • Condolences on Hitler's death 3.4
  • Ireland, Britain's last Redoubt? 4
  • Victory in Europe Day 5
  • The Cranborne report 6
  • Effect on United Nations membership 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11

Prewar relationship with Britain

Ireland was in 1939 nominally a Dominion of the British Empire and a member of the Commonwealth. The nation had gained de facto independence from Britain after the Anglo-Irish War, and the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 declared Ireland to be a 'sovereign, independent, democratic state'. A new constitution was adopted by a plebiscite in 1937. The Statute of Westminster meant that unlike in World War I, Britain's entry into the war no longer automatically included its dominions. Relations between Ireland and Britain had been strained for many years; until 1938 the two states had engaged in the Anglo-Irish Trade War.[2]

Nevertheless, Ireland did not sever its vestigial connection with the Crown and it was not until the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 that the final nominal link was severed. No representatives of the new state attended Commonwealth conferences or participated in its affairs, but Ireland remained a legal member until the British Ireland Act 1949, which accepted the declaration of a Republic and formally terminated its membership in the Commonwealth.

Alongside George VI's few remaining powers, the 1937 Constitution had provided that the holder of the new office of President of Ireland was in "supreme command of the Defence Forces".[3]

Internal affairs

Irish neutrality was supported by the population of Ireland,[4] although a minority favoured fighting against the Axis powers. Irish citizens could serve in the British armed forces, as at least 50,000 in the British Army did, as well as in the Merchant Navy and Royal Air Force, with some rising up the ranks rapidly, such as the youngest Wing Commander fighter ace in the RAF's history – Brendan Finucane.

4,983 members of the Defence Forces deserted to fight with the British and Allied armed forces. After the war they faced discrimination, lost their rights to pensions and were barred from holding government jobs. They were finally pardoned in 2012.[5]

Travel passes and identity cards were also issued to 245,000 people to enable them to travel to Britain to work.[6] A tiny fraction of people within the broader Irish republican movement allegedly sided with Germany at the onset of the war, believing that a German victory might bring about a United Ireland. Moreover, in a war in which the United Kingdom was involved, neutrality was perceived as the clearest expression of Irish sovereignty, something the Taoiseach fervently sought.

In response to claims that Ireland had failed to take up the moral fight against Nazism, the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, Joe Walshe, answered in 1941 that:[7]

On 1 September 1939, in response to the German invasion of Poland, a hastily convened Dáil declared an immediate state of emergency. The Emergency Powers Act that the day's debate culminated in came into effect one day later, on 3 September. It was modelled extensively on the British draft worked out during the Sudeten crisis a year before. In some respects the Irish act was regarded as more drastic. The key provisions were as follows:[8]

With such sweeping executive powers, de Valera's cabinet set out to tackle any problems that might arise and curb any inconsistencies with the nation's policy of neutrality. Censorship of radio newscasts meant newsreaders were confined to reading, without comment, the dispatches of each side, while weather forecasts were halted to preclude the inadvertent assistance of planes or ships involved in the war. Public expressions of opinion appearing to favour one side or the other were usually repressed. The word 'war' itself was avoided, with the Government referring to the situation in Europe from 1939 to 1945 as 'the Emergency'.

However on the effigy of Neville Chamberlain was publicly burnt in Dublin, without any interference by the police. Cole sensed that there was:[9]

Social and economic conditions in Ireland at this time were harsh. Wages stagnated but prices rose. There were serious shortages of fuel and some foodstuffs. Many people baulked against the moral diktats of church and state in the economic realm. Meanwhile, cross-border smuggling and the black market underwent something of a boom.[10]

Prelude to war

The Irish government had good reason to be concerned lest the War in Europe re-open the wounds of the Civil War. There were pro- and anti-fascist movements in Ireland, and the IRA continued to pursue its own agenda.


  • Irish Volunteers in WWII German service
  • 2010 essay by Michael Kennedy on the Irish coast-watching service in WW2
  • Ireland in World War II

External links

  • Catriona Crowe, Ronan Fanning, Michael Kennedy, Eunan O'Halpin and Dermot Keogh (eds), Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Volume VI: 1939–1941 (Royal Irish Academy, Dublin 2008) ISBN 978-1-904890-51-5
  • Catriona Crowe, Ronan Fanning, Michael Kennedy, Dermot Keogh and Eunan O'Halpin (eds), Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Volume VII: 1941–1945 (RIA series, 2010) ISBN 978-1-904890-63-8
  • Fisk, Robert. In Time of War: Ireland, Ulster and the Price of Neutrality 1939–1945 (A. Deutsch; Brandon, Ireland, 1983) ISBN 978-0-233975-14-6

Further reading

  1. ^ See Duggan p.180 Duggan, John P. Herr Hempel at the German Legation in Dublin 1937–1945 (Irish Academic Press) 2003 ISBN 0-7165-2746-4
  2. ^ Mansergh, Nicholas (1968). Survey of British Commonwealth affairs: problems of wartime co-operation and post-war change 1939–1952. Routledge. p. 59.  
  3. ^ Constitution of Ireland, Article 13.4 – "The supreme command of the Defence Forces is hereby vested in the President."
  4. ^ O'Halpin, Eunan, 1999, Defending Ireland: The Irish State and its enemies since 1922, Oxford: The Oxford University Press. p. 151
  5. ^ "Pardon for WWII Allies deserters — The Irish Times — Tue, Jun 12, 2012". The Irish Times. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  6. ^ History Ireland
  7. ^ Collins, M.E., 1993, Ireland 1868-1966, Dublin: the Educational Company of Ireland. p. 371
  8. ^ Fanning, R., 1983, Independent Ireland, Dublin: Helicon, Ltd.., p 122
  9. ^ Cole G. and Hawkins B; The world was my lobster, John Blake Publishing (2013) chapter 2.
  10. ^ Bryce Evans, Ireland during the Second World War: Farewell to Plato's Cave (Manchester University Press, 2014)
  12. ^ The Jews of Ireland.
  13. ^ Tracy, Robert (1999). "The Jews of Ireland". p. 7. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Seán Cronin: Frank Ryan, The Search for the Republic, Repsol, 1980. pp. 188–190
  15. ^ Collins, M.E., 1993, Ireland 1868-1966, Dublin: the Educational Company of Ireland. p. 373
  16. ^ The Earl of Longford and Thomas P. O'Neill: Eamon de Valera. Gill and MacMillan, Dublin, 1970. pp. 347–355
  17. ^  
  18. ^ McIvor, page 16
  19. ^ Gilligan, H.A. (1988). A History of the Port of Dublin. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. p. 166.  
  20. ^ Spong, page 11. "in the period April 1941 and June 1942 only seven such ships visited the country"
  21. ^ Burne, Lester H (2003). Richard Dean Burns, ed. Chronological History of U.S. Foreign Relations: 1932–1988 2. Routledge. p. 537.  
  22. ^ Fisk, page 273, "Up to four huge tricolours were painted on the sides of each ship together with the word EIRE in letters twenty feet high"
  23. ^ Gleichauf, Justin (2002). Unsung Sailors. Bluejacket Books. p. 115.  
  24. ^ Sinclair, Andrew (2001). Blood & Kin: an empire saga.  
  25. ^ Fisk, page 276
  26. ^ Sweeney, Pat (2010). Liffey Ships. Mercier. p. 227.  
  27. ^ a b Fanning, R., 1983, Independent Ireland, Dublin: Helicon, Ltd.. p. 121
  28. ^ "Speech by Eamon de Valera at the League of Nations Assembly". Documents on Irish Foreign Policy. Royal Irish Academy. 2 July 1936. pp. No. 347 NAI DFA 26/94. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  29. ^ Dáil Debates, 22 March 1939.
  30. ^ online; seen 21 July 2011History Ireland
  31. ^ Longford, Earl of & O'Neill, T.P. Éamon de Valera (Hutchinson 1970; Arrow paperback 1974) Arrow pp.365–368. ISBN 0-09-909520-3
  32. ^ "Memorandum by Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister".  
  33. ^ Lee, J.J., 1989, Ireland 1912–1985, Cambridge: University of Cambridge. p. 244
  34. ^ "Churchill had Plan to Invade 'Nazi' Ireland". 21 March 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  35. ^ """Winston Churchill & Eamon De Valera: A Thirty Year "Relationship. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  36. ^ Fanning, R., 1983, Independent Ireland, Dublin: Helicon, Ltd.. p. 124-5
  37. ^ Kennedy, Michael (2008). Guarding Neutral Ireland. Dublin: Four Courts Press. p. 148.  
  38. ^ a b c Collins, M.E., 1993, Ireland 1868-1966, Dublin: the Educational Company of Ireland, pg. 374
  39. ^ Lee, J.J., 1989, Ireland 1912–1985, Cambridge: University of Cambridge, pg. 248
  40. ^ Lee, J.J., 1989, Ireland 1912–1985, Cambridge: University of Cambridge, pg. 253
  41. ^ Bew, Paul (2007). Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789–2006. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 468.  
  42. ^ "Hyde (and de Valera) offered condolences on Hitler's death". Irish Independent. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  43. ^ Dermot Keogh (1989). "Eamon De Valera and Hitler". Irish Studies in International Affairs, Vol. 3, No 1, p. 84. 
  44. ^ Collins, M.E., 1993, Ireland 1868-1966, Dublin: the Educational Company of Ireland, pg. 383
  45. ^ Clair Wills, 2007, That Neutral Island: A Cultural History of Ireland During the Second World War
  46. ^ Fanning, R., 1983, Independent Ireland, Dublin: Helicon, Ltd.., p. 226
  47. ^ Fanning, R., 1983, Independent Ireland, Dublin: Helicon, Ltd.., p. 127
  48. ^ Fanning, R., 1983, Independent Ireland, Dublin: Helicon, Ltd.., pp 124–5
  49. ^ Elizabeth Keane – An Irish Statesman and Revolutionary: the nationalist and internationalist politics of Sean MacBride – London: I.B.Tauris Publishers ISBN 1-84511-125-7 "The Soviet Union vetoed the application's entry ostensibly on the grounds that Ireland had no diplomatic presence in the Soviet Union and that during the war, Ireland did not help the Allies, instead offering support to the Axis and Franco's Spain. Ireland's anti-communist stance was probably more responsible; the membership of the General Assembly was weighted towards the Western Bloc, and the Soviet Union did not want its position in the Assembly weakened." (page 150)
  50. ^ "Lester, Sean, 1929– (Sub-Fonds)". UNOG Library. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  51. ^ MacBride statement, March 1955 This seems unlikely, given that Yalta was held a year before Ireland's application to join the UN, and was based on press speculation.
  52. ^ Dáil statement 15 Dec 1955


See also

By March 1955, the Minister for External Affairs, Liam Cosgrave, announced that: “Ireland's application for membership of the U.N.O. still stands although it remains blocked by an objection in the Security Council.” For reasons of diplomacy the government would not state the reason for the objection, nor which country had made it. Sean MacBride considered that the UN boycott of Ireland was originally agreed at the 1945 Yalta Conference by Churchill and Stalin.[51] Ireland's acceptance into the UN was announced by John A. Costello on 15 December 1955.[52]

The neutrality policy led to a considerable delay in Ireland's membership of the United Nations (UN). Ireland's applications for membership were vetoed by the Soviet Union, a permanent member of the Security Council, from 1946 to December 1955.[49] The original use of the term "United Nations" in 1942–45 always referred to the Allies of World War II. Ireland had applied to join the UN in 1946, following the demise of the League of Nations, where Irish diplomat Seán Lester was the last Secretary-General.[50]

Effect on United Nations membership

Viscount Cranborne, the British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, wrote a letter on 21 February 1945 to the British War Cabinet regarding Irish-British collaboration during 1939–1945:[48]

The Cranborne report

In response to which R. Fanning wrote: 'One might question [...] the liberating value of war for a people who has so recently emerged from revolution followed by a civil war and in whose midst the IRA still propounded the creed of violence ...'[47]

The implications on Victory in Europe Day and after, of having not been involved in the war and having suffered the devastation that defined the course of Europe afterwards, is the subject of historical debate. The devastation shared by most of Europe, and Ireland's avoidance of it, was described by F.S.L. Lyons as:

In addition, he put the following, that

[45][44] in May 1940. In a response a few days later, de Valera acknowledged that Churchill did not add 'another horrid chapter to the already bloodstained record' of Anglo-Irish relations, but asked:occupied neutral IcelandBritain had
'we never laid a violent hand upon them, which at times would have been quite easy and quite natural.'

In his speech celebrating the Allied victory in Europe (13 May 1945) Winston Churchill remarked that he had demonstrated restraint towards Ireland because

Victory in Europe Day

With Hitler turning towards the USSR in 1941 the chances of an invasion of Britain waned and the Irish Army decided to hold a major exercise to test the planning and training it had been undertaking for four years, in autumn 1942. As part of this, "Rathduff's" secret was partially released, with it serving as the airfield for Ireland's 2nd Division during the exercise. After the exercises "Rathduff" slipped into obscurity, its fields returning to use as the thoroughbred stud farm they had been before.

The Irish Army disagreed, fearing a German invasion would overrun it quickly, so both finally agreed on a site in the south of County Tipperary, in the valley of the river Suir, east of the Galtee Mountains. This also suited the Irish army as they had built a secret command headquarters near a convent school seven miles away to be used in case of invasion. The name "Rathduff" was chosen as a cover because such a name is to be found all over Munster. Both sites were completely out of bounds for all normal military operations.

In his book Wings over Ireland – History of the Irish Air Corps, Donal McCarron gives extensive details on the otherwise secret Rathduff aerodrome. He states that as early as the summer of 1940 both governments were worried about the "Doomsday scenario" of a successful invasion of Britain. The RAF would need at least one aerodrome to continue the fight in Ireland and both the Irish and British armies secretly scouted for a site in the south of Ireland. The other airfields of Rineanna near Limerick and Dublin airport and Baldonnel near Dublin would cover other parts of Ireland, so the RAF was keen on a site near the southeast coast.

Ireland, Britain's last Redoubt?

Ireland maintained a public stance of neutrality to the end by refusing to close the German and Japanese Legations, and the Taoiseach Éamon de Valera signed the book of condolence on Adolf Hitler's death on 2 May 1945, and personally visited Ambassador Hempel, following the usual protocol on the death of a Head of State of a state with a legation in Ireland. President Douglas Hyde visited Hempel separately on 3 May.[42] The visits caused a storm of protest in the United States.[43]

Condolences on Hitler's death

The United States Ambassador to Ireland, David Gray, stated that he once asked de Valera what he would do if German paratroopers "liberated Derry". According to Gray, de Valera was silent for a time and then replied "I don't know".[41]

Other examples of Irish attitudes towards Nazi Germany found expression in mid-1940 in de Valera's Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, William Warnock, 'whose "unquestionable" hostility to Britain could easily be interpreted as sympathetic for National Socialism.'[39] Academic J.J. Lee questioned just how much of Warnock's zeal towards Hitler's Reichstag speech on 19 July was genuine enthusiasm for the 'international justice' that could be expected after Germany's victory, as opposed to an adherence to the instructions of Dublin to please oneself to the potential victors. Three years later, by 1944, the orientation of the war and of Irish relations to Germany had turned about-face, with the threat of a German victory no longer imminent. In that climate the Irish Government, once so ready to 'say agreeable things', Hempel remarked, had become 'unhelpful and evasive'.[40]

Before the war began, de Valera had held a meeting with career diplomat Dr. Eduard Hempel, the German Minister in Ireland since 1938. The meetings discussed Ireland's close trade links with the United Kingdom and the ease with which Britain could invade her if its interests were threatened. He in turn communicated to Berlin that such was the case that it 'rendered it inevitable for the Irish government to show a certain consideration for Britain' and urged war officials to avoid any action that would legitimise a British invasion of Ireland.[38] In mid-June 1940, Secretary of External Affairs Joe Walshe expressed his 'great admiration for the German achievements.' Hempel, for his part, wrote to Germany of 'the great and decisive importance even to Ireland of the changed situation in world affairs and of the obvious weakness of the democracies.' Hempel might well have known better of Irish intentions, having earlier described a native custom 'to say agreeable things without meaning everything that is said.'[38]

In this regard Viscount Cranborne acknowledged at the war's end that the Irish Government had '...been willing to accord us any facilities which would not be regarded as overtly prejudicing their attitude to neutrality', collaborating with the British war cabinet.[36] (See below for complete text.) The pattern of co-operation between British and Irish agencies began upon the onset of war when de Valera permitted the use of specified Irish airspace mainly for patrolling coastal points. The use of the "Donegal Corridor", the narrow strip of Irish territory between County Fermanagh and the sea, was significant. By the autumn of 1941 use of the corridor was a daily routine.[37] While de Valera rejected British appeals to use Irish ports and harbour facilities directly, de Valera was, according to M.E. Collins, 'more friendly than strict neutrality should have allowed.'[38] The co-operation that emerged allowed for meetings to take place to consider events after German troops had overrun neutral Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. Three days after the fall of France, Irish and British defence officials met to discuss how British troops could, strictly at de Valera's invitation, occupy Ireland upon the event of a German landing there to expel foreign troops attempting to use her as a back door to later invade Britain. The meetings continued, as Cranborne described, throughout the war, facilitating further dialogue.

Without the Irish treaty ports (which the United Kingdom had released a year prior to the war), an independent Ireland posed a serious disadvantage to the military capability and safety of British fighting and trade, risking the possibility of invasion if that disadvantage ever proved too great. If Irish sovereignty was to be maintained, then neutrality would have to be steered consciously to the benefit of British interests, as these were its own: at once to aid the British war effort but also to forestall invasion by Britain to regain the treaty ports. Ireland, like other neutrals was '...neutral for the power that potentially threatened them most.' [33] During the war, and accusing de Valera as a 'Nazi sympathiser', the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Craigavon, urged Churchill to use Scottish and Welsh troops to overrun 'southern Ireland' before installing a Governor-General for the whole island at Dublin, but this proposal was rejected by London. Nevertheless Churchill directed Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery to prepare plans to seize Cork and Queenstown (Cobh) so their harbours could be used as naval bases.[34] Better submarine-detecting technology, as well as military bases in Iceland, meant that the Irish ports were no longer as vital for the Allies as they had been during World War I.[35]

In April 1941, the question of Ireland's entry into the war was again raised when the Australian Prime Minister Menzies paid a visit to Belfast and Dublin for private discussions with De Valera and John M. Andrews, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Subsequently, Menzies reported to Churchill that the complexity of the questions of Irish unity and sovereignty meant that there was little possibility of Ireland's abandoning its policy of neutrality.[32]

Mixed effects

At a series of meetings in 17–26 June 1940, during and after the Battle of France, British envoy Malcolm MacDonald brought a proposal to end the partition of Ireland and offered a solemn undertaking to accept "the principle of a United Ireland" if Ireland would abandon its neutrality and immediately join the war against Germany and Italy. However, the reality of unity would have to be agreed by the "representatives of the government of Éire and the government of Northern Ireland", each of which distrusted the other intensely. De Valera therefore rejected the amended proposals on 4 July, worried that there was "no guarantee that in the end we would have a united Ireland" and that it "would commit us definitely to an immediate abandonment of our neutrality".[30] De Valera had campaigned against partition and the 1937 Constitution drafted by him had an irredentist clause describing the State as the "whole island of Ireland". After the war he again called repeatedly for the ending of partition. The offer and his rejection remained secret until a biography was published in 1970.[31]

Offer to end the Partition of Ireland in 1940

[29] which appeared in newspapers on 20 February 1939:Associated PressMonths before the outbreak of war, de Valera gave a statement to the [28]:League of Nations in 1936, de Valera said at the Italian conquest of AbyssiniaAfter the [27] as an independent state):Irish Republic, seeking that the United States formally recognise the Woodrow WilsonThis statement reflected a point de Valera had made as early as 1918 (when writing to President of the United States [27] were ready to enter into alliances with the enemies of Britain to secure Irish independence, they realised that continuing such a policy after achieving independence would be dangerously provocative, a point de Valera made as early as February 1920:Irish War of IndependenceFor de Valera the emphasis of Irish neutrality was on preservation of Irish sovereignty, so committing to the policy accomplished both rational and ideological goals. While the revolutionaries of the


External affairs

Many British ships were repaired in Irish shipyards.[26]

The diminutive Irish Mercantile Marine continued essential overseas trading. This period was referred to as "The Long Watch" by Irish mariners. They sailed unarmed and usually alone, flying the Irish tricolour. They identified themselves as neutrals with bright lights and by painting the tricolour and EIRE in large letters on their sides and decks,[22] yet twenty percent of seamen perished as victims of a war in which they were non-participants. Allied convoys often could not stop to pick up survivors.[23][24] Irish ships always answered SOS calls; they always stopped to rescue. Irish mariners rescued seafarers from both sides, but they were attacked by both, predominantly by the Axis powers (see e.g. the attack on the SS Irish Oak). Vital imports arrived. Exports, mainly food supplies for Great Britain, were delivered. 521 lives were saved.[25]

"No country had ever been more effectively blockaded because of the activities of belligerents and our lack of ships, most of which had been sunk, which virtually cut all links with our normal sources of supply."

At the outbreak of the war Ireland was isolated as never before.[17] Shipping had been neglected since independence.[18][19] Foreign ships, on which Ireland had hitherto depended, were less available.[20] Neutral American ships would not enter the "war zone".[21] There were a mere 56 Irish ships when the war started; 15 more were purchased or leased during the conflict; 20 were lost. In his Saint Patrick's Day address in 1940, Taoiseach Éamon de Valera, lamented:

Eoghan Ganly, President of the Maritime Institute of Ireland (wearing chain of office) at Medal presentation to the grandchildren of Timoteo McCarthy, an Argentine national who served on a number of Irish ships during the war.

Ports and trade

This threat was real: Russell, in May 1940, travelled to Berlin in an effort to get arms and support for the IRA. He received training in German ordnance but died on a submarine while returning to Ireland as part of Operation Dove.[14] A small number of inadequately-prepared German agents were sent to Ireland, but those that did arrive were quickly picked up by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (G2). Active republicans were interned at the Curragh or given prison sentences; six men were hanged under newly legislated acts of treason and three more died on hunger strike.[15] The Germans also later came to realise they had overestimated the abilities of the IRA. By 1943, the IRA had all but ceased to exist. In Eire, neutrality was popular, despite rationing and economic pressure.[16]

In the six months prior to the onset of war there had been an escalation of Irish Republican Army violence and a bombing campaign in Britain under the new leadership of Seán Russell. De Valera, who had tolerated the IRA as recently as 1936, responded with the Offences against the State Act, 1939. Upon the outbreak of the main conflict in September, subversive activity was regarded as endangering the security of the state. There were fears that the United Kingdom, eager to secure Irish ports for their air and naval forces, might use the attacks as a pretext for an invasion of Ireland and a forcible seizure of the assets in question. Furthermore, the possibility that the IRA (in line with the Irish nationalist tradition of courting allies in Europe) might link up with German agents, thereby compromising Irish non-involvement, was considered.

fought with the Republicans, though neither had government support. International Brigades of the Irish contingent fought with the Nationalists and the pro-Republican Irish Brigade – but on opposing sides. O'Duffy's pro-Nationalist (Fascist) Spanish Civil War Irish contingents fought in the 1937 two In this context, it is relevant to note that [13] named in his honour.Israel during the war, has a forest in Taoiseach, Ireland's Éamon De Valera In recognition of his consistent support for Ireland's Jews, [12][11]

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