Wednesday, 28 November 1945
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Flanagan: asked the Minister for External Affairs if he is aware that an article, dealing with Ireland's neutrality during the recent war, was published under the name of Randolph Churchill in a Dublin morning newspaper on 13th November, 1945; that statements were contained therein, alleging:—(i) differential, treatment of the German and British representatives in Éire in the matter of the possession of wireless transmitting sets; (ii) differential treatment of British and American air crews whose aeroplanes had crashed in Éire; (iii) that facilities were given to British Air Force ground crews to repair crashed British and American aeroplanes; and (iv) that certain minor armed units of the British Navy were permitted to use Irish ports; whether these statements are in accordance with facts, and, if not, whether he will have an official denial made through the Government Information Bureau.
First, as regards the German Legation's wireless transmitting set: I knew that the German Legation had a wireless transmitting set. I was satisfied that the use of that set in certain circumstances might involve considerable danger to British and American forces and that it could well be argued that the operation of it from  here was contrary to the pledge which I had given long before the war that we would not allow our territory to be made a basis of attack against Britain. Accordingly, I asked the German Minister to put the set under our control. This, having consulted his Government, he did.
I do not know that the British representative had three wireless transmitting sets as stated in the article, but it is obvious from our relative geographical positions that the possession of a wireless transmitter by the British representative could not in any sense be such a danger to Germany as would be the possession of such a set by the German Minister to Britain and America.
Secondly, as regards the internment of aircraft and their crews: The obligations of neutrals in regard to air warfare have not yet been formulated with anything like the same degree of completeness and certainly as in the case of land and naval forces. Like other neutrals, therefore, we had to proceed on general principles adapting them to concrete situations as these arose. Once more our geographical position relative to the two sets of combatants had to be taken into account and we became convinced that the extension of the rule of internment to cover crashes which occurred in training and other flights of a noncombatant character would, in practice, work out unfairly as between the two sides. We decided, therefore, to limit internment to landings which occurred on flights of an operational character, and from what we were able to ascertain of the practice of other neutral countries, we were satisfied that our attitude in this regard was in accord with that generally adopted.
Thirdly, as regards granting facilities for the repair of crashed British and American planes: Facilities for their repair were granted if they were capable of taking off within a reasonable time and the crashed aircraft were held not to be internable in accordance with the decision which I have just mentioned.
Fourthly, as regards the use of our ports by armed units of the British  Navy: No British naval vessels of any kind were permitted to use our ports during the war. The only British non-merchant vessel which frequented any Irish port during the war was a rescue vessel called the Robert Hastie which made use of Killybegs harbour. That vessel was engaged exclusively in the task of rescuing men from the sea, and it carried no offensive armament.
Mr. Flanagan: Arising out of the Taoiseach's reply, would he state if the same facilities were granted in the case of German aircraft which came down in this country during the war as he has indicated in his reply were granted to British aircraft?
Mr. Flanagan: Is the Taoiseach aware that in the Irish Times of some days ago there was an article under the heading: “In Spite of Neutrality Éire Helped Britain”? I have asked the Taoiseach in my question if the statement written by the son of the former Premier of England is correct, to admit so, and if it is wrong, to make an official denial.
The Taoiseach: I am not responsible for any statement made by the son of a former British Prime Minister, and I do not think that any further statement is necessary in addition to what I have given, and to the statement which was contained in my reply to the American note of the 21st February, 1944.
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