Friday 23 February 2018

De Valera made it clear our neutrality was not for sale

Éamon de Valera: decision to stay out of war avoided further conflict
Éamon de Valera: decision to stay out of war avoided further conflict
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

For the generations born in Ireland since the end of the second World War, it is understandably difficult for them to envisage the state of public opinion here at that time on the issue of Irish neutrality. To comment critically like David Quinn does (Irish Independent, August 21) on the morality of our policy from the perspective of the 21st Century is reading history backwards.

During the war years, the fallout from partition following the Anglo-Irish conflict was still vivid in the public mind, and it was only 17 years since the guns of the Civil War had fallen silent. For both sides in the bitter internecine bloodbath, the British were still the common enemy. The decision of Dáil Éireann to remain neutral in all probability avoided an outbreak of a second civil conflict here.

All parties in the Dáil, and public opinion, favoured neutrality. Only one TD, James Dillon, voiced disapproval. Even those Dáil members who were strong supporters of the Allied cause voted to remain neutral. Proposals from Churchill for the offer of a united Ireland as a quid pro quo for Irish entry into the war was rejected by Mr de Valera. Our independence was not for sale.

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