Sunday 21 January 2018

De Valera stood against Nazis by helping the Allies

Éamon de Valera: afforded the Allies all the help they needed
Éamon de Valera: afforded the Allies all the help they needed
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

As the author of Éamon de Valera in the Irish Independent's Great Biography series, I should like to point out that David Quinn's arguments last Friday about what Ireland should have done during World War II were absurd. The de Valera government did stand against Nazism by secretly giving the Allies essentially all the help that this country could provide.

Mr Quinn argues that the denial of Irish bases handicapped Britain because British shipping was compelled to go the "long way round" (around Northern Ireland). Once the Germans had got hold of naval and air bases in France in 1940, the shipping route south of England and Ireland was too vulnerable to attack from German aircraft based in France. Even if the British had Irish bases, the route would have been just as vulnerable. The British and American naval chiefs actually blocked a political move to ask for Irish bases in 1943 because, they warned, those bases would only be a liability.

When Mr Quinn wrote about Irish facilities being denied to British tugs, he is obviously unaware that the Robin Hastie, an armed Royal Navy tug, was secretly based at Killybegs, Co Donegal, for air-sea rescue purposes. The Irish suggested that similar facilities could be made available for tugs at Cobh and Berehaven.

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