No. 96 NAI DFA Secretary's Files S113

Draft instructions from Joseph P. Walshe to John W. Dulanty (London) (Copy), with covering letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Kathleen O'Connell (Copy) (Dublin)

Dublin, 19 December 1939

Dear Miss O'Connell,

I enclose a draft instruction to be sent to-morrow to Mr. Dulanty if the Taoiseach approves. Would you be good enough to bring it to his notice as soon as you get the opportunity.

Yours sincerely,


Dear High Commissioner,

The Taoiseach would like you to make further representations concerning the case of Barnes and Richardson.1

This is not a case of ordinary crime. It is vital to the good relations between the two countries that the attitude of the British Government should not be finally determined without very serious consideration of the political background in which the activities of the I.R.A. in England are taking place. It would be unwise to ignore the very obvious fact that these young men believe that they are acting in the interests of Ireland when they employ such methods. It is perfectly clear that they do not intend to kill or even to injure. Their object in causing material destruction is to bring to the notice of the British Government in that forceful way the continuing dismemberment of Ireland. Whatever disapproval one feels for their methods, the sincerity of their intentions cannot be doubted. The Irish Government are convinced that the execution of these men would have very serious repercussions. Instead of acting as a deterrent, it is likely to produce a series of reprisals and assassinations the ultimate consequences of which it is impossible to foresee. The execution cannot be productive of any good and cannot in any way further the interests of law and order. When men are inspired to wrong-doing by the existence of a fundamental national injustice and suffer penalties therefor, their countrymen's feelings are bound to be moved in their favour, and the British Government should ask themselves whether it would be wise to lose the element of good understanding now existing between the two countries by considering only the wrong committed by these men while forgetting their motives and the circumstances in which the wrong was done.

You could write a formal note to Mr. Eden in the sense of the foregoing paragraph before asking for an interview. Meanwhile, the Minister wishes you to use every influence available to you in order to prevent the execution, which he believes would be the beginning of a new train of bitterness and strife between our two peoples.

Yours sincerely,

1 Peter Barnes (1908-40) and James Richards (aka McCormick) (1911-40) were sentenced to death by hanging after they were found guilty of planting the bomb that exploded in Coventry on 25 August 1939 which killed five people. Richards admitted to being a member of the IRA while Barnes maintained he had no link with the organisation. Both men were executed on 7 February 1940.

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