Ireland still firm on refusal to grant bases (1-15-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 15, 1941)

English press campaign, Roosevelt hint have no effect
By Charles T. Lucey, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington, Jan. 15 –
Neither Nazi bombs, pressure from English newspapers, nor President Roosevelt’s sharp hint to Éire is weakening Irish determination not to yield naval bases to the British, according to the last information here.

The de Valera government’s investigations have led to Irish acceptance of the belief that recent German bombings were not intended for Éire.

The President asked in his recent fireside chat whether, in the event of German victory, Irish freedom would be permitted as an “amazing exception in an entire world.” This has made no change in Irish feeling, according to those in touch with the situation.

There has been talk here, entirely unofficial up to now, of some sort of undertaking by the United States government to guarantee to Éire the return, after the war, of such ports as she might be willing to let England use.

The de Valera government has taken the position that, after centuries of British rule in Ireland, it was able to get these ports back, free of all restrictions, only in 1938 and that the Irish people will not allow their use now by any outside power.

German raids feared

Leaders of Irish opinion here have argued that Irish cities would be unmercifully bombed by the Germans if naval bases were yielded to England, and that after all, Éire is a democratic country with a right to decide for itself. They now make this additional point.

Winston Churchill asserted recently that England’s exclusion from the Irish bases was imposing a hardship on the British Navy in its job of keeping sea lanes open. Would Britain then ask Irish leaders ever again give up the use of Irish ports by her Navy once she had occupied them?

Moreover, the position is taken in Ireland that yielding the bases would in fact mean yielding much more – that Irish railroads would be needed to supply bases and that, as the war dragged on, much of the country would be called upon to support the naval-base operation.

Want British to win

Irish leaders say they wish England to win the war and they insist that Éire’s attitude is not based on old hatreds. If the Germans tried to use Éire as a base for attack on England, they say that Irishmen – of whom a comparatively great number are under arms – would fight to the last man.

The United States, according to reports, has provided a substantial part of Éire’s arms.

But if the Irish would repel Germans, according to information here, so would they repel the British. Those in touch with the situation say there is no disposition to deviate from neutrality.