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Documents on
Irish Foreign Policy
Volume VII,
1941-1945
 

The seventh volume in the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy (DIFP) series runs from January 1941 to August 1945. It commences with neutrality firmly established as the central tenet of Irish foreign policy during the Second World War.

Neutrality was strongly influenced by Taoiseach and Minister for External Affairs Éamon de Valera's belief that as a small powerless state Ireland could not take part in great power quarrels and that Ireland's independence would only suffer if the country was drawn into the world war.

While certain aspects of neutrality, such as the preservation of Ireland's sovereignty and that Ireland would resist militarily an attack from any quarter, remained fixed principles, neutrality could flex to accommodate responses to the changing fortunes of war around and over Ireland and was adapted as the international situation facing Ireland evolved.

The documents in volume VII of DIFP reflect the primary concerns of Second World War Irish foreign policy, in particular the maintenance of neutrality, and they accordingly prioritise British-Irish, Irish-American and Irish-German relations.

The volume also includes material from the wider network of Irish diplomatic missions. The hardships facing Irish diplomats serving overseas in wartime were considerable and the very real possibility of death as a result of hostilities is graphically illustrated by the reports covering the destruction of the Irish legation in Berlin in 1943.

As the likelihood of Allied victory rose, Dublin had also to ensure that in the postwar world Ireland's independence and freedom would not be dominated by the concerns of the great powers. The Department of External Affairs and the Irish diplomatic service faced into a new and unexpected world in 1945, one they could never foresee in 1941.

DIFP VII marks the beginning of a period of fundamental change in the nature and scope of Irish foreign policy which began in the final years of the Second World War and continued until Ireland became a member of the United Nations in 1955.

 

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