it’s hard not to be curious about what made Ireland the one and only English-speaking country to not have fought alongside the United Kingdom during World War two it’s even harder though to imagine how it managed to stay that way under the pressure of both sides to choose an enemy in this sense in answering why Ireland chose to remain neutral we will first answer what joining the war would have meant for the country at the start of the war relations between the United Kingdom and the young Irish states governments were diplomatic at best.
although Ireland had a long history of conflict with the British crown the decades between the two world wars were especially tense it’s the 1940s and Ireland is not seeing the United Kingdom as an ally but also it fears a German invasion but in August 1940 the first German bombs are being dropped on the Irish soil.
the United Kingdom in 1801 Ireland underwent like many other countries in the second half of the 19th century the exponential growth of nationalism among its population the rising national identity didn’t take long to become a self-government movement and by 1914 those in favour of an independent Ireland carried out to the British Parliament the known as Home Rule Act which gave Ireland self-government sovereignty.
although within the United Kingdom World War one nonetheless postponed until after its end the promulgation of this act yet it was never promulgated in 1919 the Irish Republican Army the IRA who three years before had unsuccessfully declared Ireland independence started a guerrilla war against the British fought mostly in Dublin and Belfast cities the Irish War of Independence accentuated the identity tendency of Catholics and Protestants supporting independence and loyalism respectively.
which resulted in the partition of the country between Ireland and Northern Ireland in 1921 Ireland was then a self-governing state shortly after as is frequent in recently independent countries a civil war arose between those in favour of remaining part of the British Empire and those against it backed up by the crown Pro British forces won and founded the Irish Free State.
a constitutional state part of the British Commonwealth and as such subject to royal authority the struggle was not settled though and in 1937 near the start of the war a second Irish Constitution supplanted the Free Irish state with what we know today as Ireland behind this new constitution which removed the king as an authority figure was head of state Eamon de Valera a key figure.
in Ireland politics by the time this new constitution was adopted de Valera had a long history in the country’s political conflicts he took part of IRAs Republican insurrection and independence declaration and was also one of the political leaders during the war of independence he was in favor of the defeated anti Commonwealth forces during the Civil War and him.
founding the fionna fall party as a new approach toward total independence was key in Ireland reaching such objective the transition no did not lack friction between Ireland and its former overlord Britain economic disagreements led to nations applying important fees to one another the so called treaty ports a set of three Irish ports one north and to South.
under British control since 1921 settled the trade war by returning to Irish hands in 1938 Churchill objected this movement due to the strategic position the ports could have in an imminent war intuiting at the same time that de Valera would not let the British use them in this way when de Valera addressed to the Irish people the state position of non belligerency concerning.
the already in process European war he did so in the faith of expressing the sovereignty of the country that is to say to show that they were not associated with the British which asked Ireland to come to their aid as soon as they request it more than to any other country but once the war started Ireland was forced to make the decision of remaining neutral over and over again on the one part Britain interest in Ireland and during the war did not diminish.
the next year after the start of the war the British were as far as secretly offering de Valera what he wanted more than anything a potential unification between Ireland and Northern Ireland as a single Irish state in exchange the Irish were to allow their land ports and airspace to be used freely by the Allies under these terms the Irish government was also obligated to deport every citizen from the Axis countries from its land still the deal did not imply that Ireland was obligated to make.
a formal war declaration although at first it may have looked like a tempting offer de valera did not accept it why firstly only after de Valera accepted the deal a proposition for unification would be proposed to his northern pair Prime Minister James Craig de Valera did not trust him and reaching an agreement would be complicated at least this trust aside it can also be interpreted that the Irish did not see a clear winner on the conflict as in 1940 the war was still open yet at the same time shortly.
after rejecting the unification offer de Valera let no the British that he was rooting for them and that if Ireland was to enter the war as Allied the Germans could invade Ireland that is to ignore nonetheless that the British Royal Navy defended Ireland C and that British troops up north were positioned to intervene if the Germans were to attack Ireland by the time of the war.
the Irish Navy only had around fifty ships and an equally short aircraft force its army was of limited size as well restricted to less than 30,000 soldiers and the country did not increase its military exponential that much after the war arose but despite its neutrality Ireland did not remain alien to the war as early as it started Dahl arene Irish Maine legislative chamber declared the state of emergency for the Irish government conceived to remain active.
until the end of the conflict in political terms the emergency granted the government a set of extraordinary powers such as media control and acute intervention in the economy as such their lack of military strength did not limit Irish propagandas efforts on using its limited army assets to ensure the population that the country could not actually defend.
itself of any enemy on the other hand the Allies were not the only band looking for Ireland to join the war Churchill’s 1940 speech against Ireland’s refusal to declare war on access was at the same time joined by a German military offer which Valera refused by treating with arrest two German emissaries if they were to land on Irish soil shortly after Ireland was bombarded resulting.
in three casualties in 24 wounded and again the next year when allegedly mistaking Ireland’s coast for England’s Germans bombarded many times the country resulting in more than 30 civil casualties there are even documents that support a German plan on invading Ireland the so called Operation green a complementary part of Operation Sea Lion which targeted.
the UK in this sense neutrality during the conflict was kept even after actual hostilities Irish ship MV Kerr Lok for example despite suffering damage by the Allies and the axis weaponry keep neutral politics and even intervened in rescuing soldiers from both sides as the u.s. entered the war Ireland’s importance in changing the war tides diminished yet Ireland indeed chose aside and secretly supported.
the Allies for the one part Irish citizens were still then British subjects we’re free to join the British lines Allied aircraft were also granted entrance to the Donegal corridor allowing them safe access to and from the Atlantic on the other hand the Irish air corpse as well as its naval service assisted allies by sharing them aircraft identification over their territory similarly and planning the Normandy landings hourly Irish meteorological reports aided the Allies and choosing.
when to attack we can say that Ireland’s apparent neutrality was a sovereignty exercised both regarding their brand-new relationship with the UK and with the political world scenario Churchill who had long loathed Ireland’s leader took advantage of de Valera’s mistake and declared him to be uncooperative during the war if not an enemy whom the United Kingdom should have undertake him Valera’s response came only three days later.
in the form of a pondered statement of principles and a synthesis of the motive that made Irish neutrality the only viable choice for defending and shaping its sovereignty de Valera addressed the fact that if Ireland would have entered the war Britain’s necessity would become a moral code while in responding to Churchill Menace of invading Ireland he responded that it would have meant another horrid chapter of the already blood-stained record of relations between England and this country.
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