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Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume 8

DIFP Volume VIII (1945-1948)

Now in its 15th year, the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series continues to open up the secret archives of the Department of Foreign Affairs. DIFP VIII runs from 1945 to 1948 and shows that during the immediate post-war years Ireland redefined its global position as a result of wartime neutrality and the developing Cold War. Previously thought to be years of vacuum and general isolation, the post-war years saw Ireland engage with a wide range of multilateral organisations, open new diplomatic missions and repair relations with states, in particular the United States and Britain, which had suffered during the Second World War.

The volume begins as the Second World War ends, with the Department of External Affairs holding its first ‘Heads of Missions’ conference to plan the direction of Irish foreign policy in the post-war years. The volume concludes in the aftermath of Fianna Fáil’s defeat in the 1948 general election, with Éamon de Valera leaving Iveagh House for the last time as Minister for External Affairs after holding the post for sixteen years. The events covered by DIFP VIII fall into two chronological periods. From September 1945 to June 1947 Irish foreign policy was primarily concerned with the legacy of wartime neutrality, developing bilateral relationships within the emerging post-war global system and evaluating the benefits of applying for membership of the United Nations. But Ireland’s hope of joining the United Nations was dealt a blow when the Soviet Union vetoed Ireland’s application in August 1946.1 Though rebuffed, Dublin sought to join other multilateral organisations and to expand Ireland’s diplomatic network, and new missions were opened in Australia, Sweden and Argentina in 1946 and 1947.

The second period follows the declaration of the Truman doctrine in March 1947 when, in June, Ireland received an Anglo-French invitation to participate in the Conference on European Economic Co-operation (CEEC) to draw up Europe’s co-ordinated response to the United States proposal for what would become the European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan). The CEEC provided Irish diplomats with a meeting place to develop relations with their European counterparts and from 1947 such multilateral diplomacy became an important feature of Ireland’s external relations. These years saw a refocussing of the concerns of Irish foreign policy as the post-war global outlook worsened and uncertainty grew over Ireland’s international trade and financial position in the new world order of the East-West divide. Throughout, Ireland’s international outlook remained pro-Western and Atlanticist, Christian, anti-Communist and militarily neutral.

Available in November 2012 from www.ria.ie and from your local bookshop

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