Ireland neutrality

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Transcript of Ireland neutrality

  • 1. Ireland Neutrality/ the emergency

2. Neutrality

  • After Hitlers invasion of Poland onSeptember 1 1939 , de Valera informed the Dil that Ireland would remain neutral during the conflict.
  • Why
  • It was less divisive than the other option of fighting on the side of the British. There was still hostile feeling towards the British at this time. And it would have been unpopular move to call men to fight for Britain.
  • It emphasised that Ireland was truly Independent.
  • This option also protected Irish people from suffering.
  • Partition also made co-operation with the British impossible.
  • As a small nation Ireland was vulnerable to attack, and it would therefore be safer to remain outside the conflict

3. September 2 the Dil declares astate of Emergency

  • Government empowered to run the country with extensive powers whilst the emergency lasted.
  • Government could censor newspapers, letters, and radio. This stopped Irish people from finding out what was going on.
  • The free state army was expanded and thousands of men volunteered to join. However the army was in a neglected state and had very old-fashioned weapons.

4. How did Ireland feed itself during this time?

  • Ireland had a chance to realise Griffiths self-sufficiency philosophy.
  • 1939: 95% of imports were carried by foreign ships, leaving the country and these were vulnerable to British pressure. (Had to set up our own merchant navy)
  • Government established aDepartment of Suppliesunder Sen Lemass to deal with the problem.


  • Wheat was the primary imported food.
  • Sean Lemass orders farmers to grow more wheat
  • Bakers use wholegrain flour.
  • Shortage of Fertilizer as the British cut off supplies by 1942.
  • Farm productivity falls.
  • However bread rationing is avoided.
  • Strict rationing was imposed on imported tea. Fruit like bananas and oranges disappears from shops.


  • Importedcoal and iron are very scarceand tightly rationed.
  • Horse transport & turf for cooking were partial substitutes.
  • Many new Industries had to close or go to part-time working due to these shortages.
  • Lemass establishedIrish shippingin 1941 to carry imports but there were only a few old ships available for purchasing.
  • Poor badly hit, as wages were ore controlled than prices. Poverty and TB increase
  • Many leave and to join the British army or get work in the factories in England which was going through a rearmament program and needed labour.

7. IRA threatened neutrality

  • In 1939 IRA makes contact with the Nazi and bombed London. This was a serious threat to Irish Neutrality there is fear that the British could invade to neutralise the threat to their security.
  • In 1939 the Dil passes theOffences against the state acttaking powers to intern them without trial.
  • During the war over 500 IRA men were interned in the Curragh, several died on hunger strike or were hanged for murder.
  • The German intelligence department or Abwehr sent IRA Chief of Staff, Sen Russell to Ireland in a U-Boat, but he died during the voyage.
  • German spies landed to make contact with the IRA but they were easily rounded up. OnlyHerman Goertzlasted more than a few weeks but he didnt have a radio to contact Germany.

8. Managing Neutrality

  • De Valera, asMinister for External Affairs,kept the management of neutrality in his own hands.
  • He dealt directly with the British representative,Sir John Maffey,the German representative,Edward Hempeland the American representativeDavid Gray.
  • Only Gray was hostile to Irish Neutrality. The others explained Irish difficulties to their own governments. Hempel disproved of the Abwehrs links with the IRA. Which threatened Irish neutrality.

9. Churchill offers unity

  • Most dangerous time for Irish Neutrality was frommay to July1940 following the fall of France.
  • Winston Churchillthe British prime minister (who replace Chamberlain) sentMalcolmMcDonald to offer de Valera Irish Unity in return for joining the war.
  • He turned the offer down possible because he didnt believe that they could deliver the Unionists or because he thought that Germany was winning at that time and he didnt want to join the losing side.
  • For a while, de Valera feared a British invasion, but this never came.
  • Churchill sent another offer in 1941 after the Americans entered the war after the Pearl Harbour attack by the Japanese, but this did not develop further.
  • In 1944 on the eve of D-day, Gray delivered the AmericanNotedemanding that de Valera close the German and Italian offices. When he refused all travel to Britain was stopped for six weeks.

10. Pro-Allied policy

  • When Hitler died in 1945 de Valera visited the German embassy to offer his sympathies to Hempel and the German people. This gave the impression that he supported the Germans when in practice it was an act of neutrality and Ireland wasPro-Allied
  • Irish people fought with the allies, worked in the British munitions factories and sold food to Britain.
  • The Irish army drew up plans with the British army for joint action against a German invasion.
  • De Valera sent information gathered in Irish embassies in Europe and eavesdropping on Germans to Britain.
  • British soldiers and airmen who landed in Ireland were sent back to England whilst the Germans were interred in the Curragh.
  • These policies enabled Irish neutrality to succeed because the allies got what they wanted without having to resort to an invasion.
  • Neutrality also succeeded because
  • Ireland was too far for the Germans to get here easily
  • As democracies fighting tyranny GB & US could not easily invade a small democracy

11. Irish Neutrality: An assessment

  • Although the free State was spared the worst ravages of war, living standards were almost at subsistence level, and the economy remained stagnant for many years to come.
  • During the emergency the widespread support for neutrality from people of different political views helped to heal some of the civil war divisions
  • Although Neutrality acted as a unifying force in the South, it had the effect of deepening divisions between North and South. The widely different experiences of the war in both parts of the Island reinforced partition
  • Although Neutrality marked Irelands pursuit of an independent foreign policy, Allied resentment ensured diplomatic isolation in the immediate post war years. Irelands application to join the United Nations was vetoed by the USSR in 1946, and the country remained largely marginalized in world affaire

12. Post war problems

  • Inflation rose when wartime wages restraints ended and strikes followed as workers tried to catch up
  • The wet summer of 1946 caused a bad harvest and bread was rationed for the first time
  • The bitterly cold winter of 1946-47 caused shortages and made life miserable for many people.

13. Northern Ireland in the Second World War

  • Craigavon and the start of the Second World War
  • When the British declared war on September 3 rd1939 lord Craigavon announced that Northern Ireland would loyally support the war effort
  • He wanted to impose conscription but had to drop the idea after nationalists protests were backed by Churchill
  • He was very shocked in May 1940 when Churchill offered de Valera reunification in return for the souths involvement in the war

14. Nationalists and the war

  • Many saw it as Englands war and not their business until Belfast was bombed some even hoped for German Victory
  • The IRA got support especially in Belfast. The government interned over 700 of them and any who escaped to the south were interned there

15. Belfast Bombed

  • Northern leaders though that Belfast was too far away from Germany to be bombed so they did little to protect it until late in 1941
  • There were few anti-aircraft balloons or bomb shelters. Only 3000 people were evacuated from the city
  • German bombers came three times in April and may 1941
  • The worst raid was on the night of 15/16 April. 90 bombers dropped thousands of tonnes of high explosives, which missed the ship yards and fell on tightly packed workers houses


  • Bombs also knocked out telephone cables and water mains making it difficult for rescue workers and firemen.
  • After an appeal for help de Valera sent Fire brigades from the South but they could do little
  • At least 900 people died. Many were never identified but buried in mass graves
  • Another raid on 5 May killed fewer people, but badly damaged the Harland and Wolfe shipyard
  • Thousands of refugees fled south or to nearby towns and villages
  • For months, about 100,000 left the city each night and slept in barns or fields

17. The economy and the war

  • The Norths economy unlike the South benefited from the war
  • Food fuel and clothing were rationed though not as tightly as in Britain

18. Impact on Industry

  • War revived Linen and Shipbuilding industries
  • Northern farmers grew flax and linen mills made it into uniforms, tents, and parachutes
  • Demand for ships grew as U-boats sank so many. Over 700 ships were built
  • Engineering firms produced tanks and guns
  • Shorts aircraft factory set up in 1938 made 1500 bombers
  • Large numbers of British and American troops were stationed in the Northern Ireland. Building barracks and providing services for them created work.
  • Wages rose and unemployment fell to 5%. Workers from the South went to work in the North
  • Fearingan increase in Nationalist numbers the unionist government insisted on work permits limiting the time they could spend in Northern Ireland

19. Impact on agriculture

  • Government controlled what farmers grew through compulsory tillage orders
  • Farm production trebled, with most of it going to Britain
  • But Northern farmers got the same guaranteed price for their produce as British farmers, which saved them the cost of transport

20. Northern politics during the war

  • Unionist leaders made no attempt to involve nationalists directly in the war effort
  • Official recruiting was mainly through unionist organisations
  • JM Andrews became Prime Minister in 1940 when Craigavon died but kept all the old ministers including Dawson Bates
  • In 1943 discontent inside the Unionist party led to him being replaced by the younger, more energetic Sir Basil Brooke (later lord Brookeborough)
  • He included a Labour MP in his government, but made no attempt to win over nationalists

21. Northern Irelands contribution to the war effort

  • Northern Ireland made a significant contribution to the Allied victory over Germany
  • Food from Northern Ireland helped Britain to avoid starvation
  • About 38,000 people joined the British forces in Northern Ireland. About half came from the South.
  • From Northern Ireland
  • RAF patrolled the Atlantic searching for U-boats
  • The Royal Navy sent convoys to protect ships carrying food and munitions from America to Britain
  • British and from 1942 American troops trained in Northern Ireland for the North African campaign and for the D-Day landings

22. The impact of the Second World War

  • War widened the gap between Northern Ireland and the South
  • The North prospered, whilst the south grew poorer
  • After the war Britain set up theWelfare State.It gave Northern Irish people from both communities social welfare benefits that the south could not afford for its people
  • British leaders saw the Unionist government as their allies in contrast to neutral de Valera
  • The gap increased when the South left the Commonwealth in 1949 and declared a republic
  • As a result, in 1949 the British imposed theIreland Act , which guaranteed that Northern Ireland could not be reunited with the South without the consent of its parliament.

23. Forming the first coalition in the south

  • This made Fianna Fail unpopular, but opposition parties such as Fine Gael labour and Clann na Talmhain seemed too divided to threaten it
  • 1946 Sean MacBride former leader of the IRA formed a new party Clann na Poblachta. It attracted young people fed up with the old civil war parties
  • The Clann grew quickly, winning several by elections 1n 1947
  • To catch the Clann before it grew stronger de Valera called a snap election early in 1948. Although Fianna Fil lost eight seats it could have formed a government
  • But opposition parties had one thing in common; they wanted to get rid of de Valera, so they formed a C oalition (or Inter-party) government. John A Costello was Taoiseach and MacBride minister for external affairs

24. Declaring a republic

  • By 1948 only theExternal Association Actlinked Ireland to the Commonwealth. MacBride had campaigned to repeal it but the government had not decided what to do when Costello visited Canada
  • There apparently without consulting the Cabinet he told a reporter they planned to leave the Commonwealth and declare a republic
  • The British who were not consulted passed theIreland Actin 1949. This accepted the Irish decision, left Irish citizens free to travel to and live in the UK but for the first time guaranteed that Northern Ireland could not be forced to join the South without their consent