No. 16  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P35

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe for Frank Aiken
'Attitude of the State Department towards Us'

DUBLIN, 28 February 1941

No Government with which we have direct diplomatic relations has been so grudging to admit our separate Statehood as the American Government. In fact, they have lost no opportunity of indicating their belief that the diplomatic unity of the British Empire is a fact. Unfortunately, when our first Minister was appointed to the United States in 1924,1 we accepted a condition imposed by the British to the effect that the British Ambassador should write a letter to the State Department making known the desire of the Irish Government, and adding that such an appointment did not in any way take from the diplomatic unity of the British Empire. This letter was deliberately handed out by the State Department in recent years in reply to a request by McGarrity,2 and they now once more want to publish it 'as a matter of record'. This notwithstanding that we have informed the American Government that such a method of establishing Irish missions in foreign States had long since been abolished. It should also be perfectly clear to the State Department that, for the last ten years at least, Great Britain herself has made no attempt to claim formally that the Empire is a diplomatic unit. It is, of course, true, on the other hand, that the British Government refuses to acknowledge our exclusive right to legislate in matters concerning the external status of our citizens, who are regarded by the British Government as British subjects under British law. The State Department, in appointing Ministers and Consuls to this country, has shown a disregard of our separate status entirely opposed to the normal relationship existing between States. There is no doubt whatever that America will continue to ignore the completeness of our separate Statehood until the King relationship is finally dropped and a description of our form of State adopted which will deprive them of any argument against the genuineness of its separate character.

Recently, in connection with arms, supplies, shipping and financial accommodation, the attitude of the State Department has become still more arrogant. We were told that we were not playing the game. We were not in the line-up. No facilities could be given to us, especially with regard to munitions. They are throwing off the mask of even superficial courtesy towards us, and we are almost told that, if we do not give the ports to Britain, we cannot expect any support or friendliness from the United States in a situation in which the British would consider it necessary to seize the ports.

Clearly, the time has come to let the more serious and discreet of the influential of the Irish-American group into the secret, and to tell them, with the details which our Minister in Washington can supply, that the American pol- icy towards Ireland is to force us into a war which they must know can bring nothing but destruction and suffering to this small nation. The American Government must also be fully aware that the possession of the ports would not be a vital determining factor in the war, and their main purpose in the pres- sure they are at present exercising on us is to remove the moral defect from their and Britain's case which arises by the abstention of Ireland from participation in the war.

1 Timothy A. Smiddy, Irish Free State Minister in Washington (1924-9). See DIFP II, No. 264.

2 Joseph McGarrity (1874-1940), Irish-American activist, leading member of Clan na Gael and President of the American Association for the Recognition of an Independent Irish Republic.


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