De Valera, and how he plotted AGAINST the IRA in WW2

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by HectortheInspector, Mar 28, 2011.

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  1. I don't know if anyone else has spotted this little gem.
    BBC News - How De Valera asked UK to smear IRA chief Sean Russell

    Newly released documents suggest that the man who helped found the Irish Free State, Eamon de Valera, covertly co-operated with Britain to crush the IRA.

    The papers reveal that De Valera, whose entire cabinet in the late 1930s were former IRA members, asked London to help smear the organisation's chief of staff as a communist agent.

    Tensions came to a head when the IRA began bombing Britain in early 1939.

    Under what was called the Sabotage or S-Plan, British cities including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Coventry were targeted by IRA explosive teams.

    In one attack on Coventry five people died and 70 more were injured.

    'Old enemy'

    Dublin, which is recorded as being "seriously disturbed" by the IRA bombings, reacted even more forcefully than London.


    With war looking likely, De Valera was determined that Ireland should remain neutral.

    He knew that a hard rump of Republicans would never countenance being allied to the "old enemy" Britain, and such an alliance could push Ireland into another bloody civil war.

    But he also knew that, if his country was seen as a threat, London might decide to invade.

    It seems hard to believe that this was the same militant Republican who had been at the forefront of the Easter Rising against British rule in 1916.

    After becoming prime minister of the Irish Free State, he outlawed the IRA in 1936, and his commitment to pursuing Irish unification by constitutional means led him to part company with many of his former comrades-in-arms.

    Yet few would have guessed that he would soon be accepting British help to crush them.

    Fear of 'martyrs'

    In 1939, as the documents show, De Valera's government asked for assistance from London in smearing IRA chief of staff Sean Russell as a communist agent:

    "It is believed that some 10 or 12 years ago, he was in Soviet pay as an agitator; If there is any information which could be made available to show that this was the case, or that at the present time he is in receipt of pay from foreign sources, it would be of the greatest possible assistance to the Dublin authorities in dealing with him since it would practically eliminate the risk of him being treated as a patriotic martyr…."

    Dublin also called on London to consult them on sentences imposed on IRA members convicted of the bombings in Britain.

    De Valera was worried that those executed at British hands might become martyrs at home. But he had no such qualms over those convicted of bombings in Ireland.

    In fact, De Valera's government executed more IRA members than Britain and even borrowed the UK's most famous executioner, Albert Pierrepoint, to hang one of them.

    During the war, Dublin went on to intern more than 1,500 IRA suspects, and several died while on hunger strike in Irish jails.

    Help from Hitler

    As a result, the IRA began to look to Nazi Germany for help.

    Not long after the first bombs had gone off in Britain, Sean Russell and IRA head of explosives Jim O'Donovan, went to Berlin for a meeting with German military intelligence, the Abwehr.


    Jim O'Donovan made several trips to Germany At that point, Hitler refused to fund their S-Plan bombing campaign because of fears of provoking conflict with Britain. But, once war had broken out, he did agree to send money, transmitters and spies to Ireland.

    Many of the latter proved somewhat inept.

    In July 1940, three German spies - one of them an Indian national - capsized before landing in Ireland.

    Two of them could not speak English and the Indian agent stood out in rural Ireland. After finally making it ashore, one asked a policeman if they were anywhere near Cork.

    All three were promptly arrested.

    Yet despite all this, Jim O'Donovan was falling under Hitler's spell. In fact, during the early years of the war, he became increasingly interested in Nazi ideology and visited Germany three times.

    Speaking for the first time about his father's work with the Nazis, Gerard O'Donovan - who was a young boy during the conflict - told me how he still remembers one regular wartime visitor to their home in Dublin:

    "There was a room off the dining room where there was a radio transmitter. A man used to come every Saturday and send messages to Germany on that radio… and we children used to call (him) Mr Saturday Night."

    Jim O'Donovan died in 1979 without, according to those who knew him, any regrets about his involvement with the Nazis.

    Sean Russell, who cared little for Nazi ideology, died aboard a German U-boat bound for Ireland in August 1940.

    'Pristine' image

    The S-Plan was ultimately a failure.

    After just over a year, it ground to a halt, largely due to a string of botched attacks, lack of funds and the crackdowns against the IRA in London and Dublin.

    Some in Ireland may well have suspected at that time that their government was secretly co-operating closely with Britain, a country many still considered their enemy.

    Yet only now can such suspicions be confirmed.

    What, one wonders, might the consequences have been for Eamon De Valera, had his people known then what has come out now?

    Donnacha Obeachain is a lecturer in Politics at Dublin City University and the author of a book on Fianna Fail and Irish Republicanism:

    "It certainly would have undermined De Valera's image of being the pristine Republican leader who had heroically and unstintingly challenged the British. I think it would have been difficult for him to present that image, and it's something that he treasured.

    "The publicity of such co-operation would be very detrimental to De Valera's image and therefore his electoral prospects."

    As it was, Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Eamon De Valera continued a long and successful career in Irish politics.

    He won eight elections over the period of the 1930s, 40s and 50s and ended his career as president of Ireland between 1959 and 1973, when - at the age of 90 - he was the oldest head of state in the world.

    As for the IRA, it was a spent force for the next 20 years until it came back with another bombing campaign - this time targeted at Northern Ireland.

    Document will be broadcast on Monday 28 March at 2000 BST on BBC Radio 4 and will also be available via the BBC iPlayer .
     
  2. Pretty much common knowledge for years. Dev was brutal in suppressing the Old IRA once FF made it into government. He was a weird old stick and did some fairly confusing things, notably calling on the German Ambassador in Dublin in May 1945 to express his condolences on Hitler's death, but he certainly pushed hard and consistently for his view of what Ireland's national interest was. Even Free State neutrality during the Emergency was very much neutrality with an Allied accent.
     
  3. Dev always had his eye on who was going to be the winning side, and made bloody sure he was going to be there too. Dev was well aware that if he pissed on Britains shoes, he would be getting his P45 in short order as the Irish Free State army found a short but very exciting war on the border.

    Although Ireland was technically neutral during WWII, as the Germans found out when they parachuted in spies, that neutrality didn't extend to ze germans. While the Irish Navy and coast guard were particularly assiduous in reporting breaches of Irish neutrality by U boats, including always immediately phoning the British Embassy in Dublin, they turned a blind eye to Allied ships and aircraft using their waters and airspace.
     
  4. Does Donnacha Obeachain think that he/she is telling us anything new. Republican leaders have always used clandestine co-operation with the Brits to further their own ends. Still are.
     
  5. Probably, he seems to have missed the bit were 55,000 Irishmen joined up during WWII with the full co-operation of the Free State Government.
    He also seems to have missed the quantities of military equipment that were given to Ireland during WWII in reward for their less than neutral neutrality as well as the steady supply of essential goods in British shipping throughout WWII, and that 'neutral' Irish merchant ships would often sail along regular convoy routes at great risk to pick up survivors.
     
  6. skid2

    skid2 LE Book Reviewer

    Cruel, cruel you could be smearing the good name of NIs next first minister
     
  7. Irish policy seemd to heavily favor the Allies , granted I have picked this straight up off the wiki but I have seen a few glimspes elsewhere.

    First off there was a plan in place incase the Germans invaded Ireland which was discussed in the Germans case green. This plan, plan W involved the Irish government inviting British troops in from northern Ireland and using the existing free state forces as flying columns to harass German lines of supply. The Irish also had a plan against British Invasion so it was all confusing and interesting. As for local support im sure even the thickest memeber of my family would have been pissed off to see German panzers trundling across the beach at Stradballey.

    Irish shipyards would repair Allied merchant shipping and several Irish ships were attacked during the course of the war.

    They also seemed to be a lot happier interning German pilots that landed in Ireland. Most Allied pilots were usually escorted promptly to the border.
     
  8. Free State/British anti IRA co-operation began before the ink was even dry on the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

    From wikipedia:-

    The Battle of Dublin, a week of street fighting in Dublin from 28 June to 5 July 1922, marked the beginning of the Irish Civil War. The fighting began with an assault by the Provisional Government of the proposed Irish Free State on the Four Courts building which had been occupied by a hard-line section of the anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army, and ended with the defeat of the republicans and the securing of the capital for the Provisional Government . . . .

    Michael Collins accepted a British offer of artillery loaned by Winston Churchill for use by the new Irish Army, along with 200 from their store of 10,000 shells at Kilmainham, 3 miles away. Two 18 Pounder field guns were placed on Parliament Street and Winetavern Street, across the Liffey from the Four Courts complex, and after a final ultimatum they began their bombardment on the 28th of June.
     
  9. 'They also seemed to be a lot happier interning German pilots that landed in Ireland. Most Allied pilots were usually escorted promptly to the border.'

    There was a rather unbelievable 1998 film on this subject starring Gabriel Byrne and one of the appalling McGann brothers called 'The Brylcreem Boys' which seemed to indicate that anyone who escaped (from what was, basically, an open prison) was recaptured and returned to the camp, whilst anyone who got across the border, having given parole, was returned by the British.
     
  10. A former Irish Air Corps officer, looking for something to do during his retirement wrote a PhD on the Irish Air Corps from formation to the end of 'The Emergency'. The official documentation (much of which he had to get declassified) suggests that co-operation went to the extent of transporting RAF aircraft which had come down in the Republic to the border, whereupon the aeroplane and the detatched wing sections would, entirely accidentally somehow get pushed so that a little bit of the aeroplane was in the North...

    Purely coincidentally, chaps from the RAF always seemed to be in the area when this happened, which led to a spot of 'Ah, go on, now, t'would seem that we could both lay claim to this, but it'll be of more use to you British fellas, so why don't you take it?'

    The evidence suggests that this wasn't local, unofficial policy, but sanctioned by Dev (who also, as I recall from the thesis, arranged with Churchill for Fighter Command to provide the air defence of Dublin, since the artillery officer placed in charge of procuring the IAC's fighters had mistakenly blown a large part of the budget on Lysanders, mistaking them for fighter aircraft).
     
  11. What are you hinting at? Eh? Eh??
     
  12. That's a myth. The IAC bought Gladiator's not Lysanders but only four were delivered before the hostilities prevented fulfilment of the remaining quantity. The IAC "acquired" 163 aircraft during the war, and eventually had a serious fleet of Hurricanes in service (20).
     
  13. The 'Donegal Corridor' allowed our flying boats to close the Atlantic gap. Totally illegal under neutrality laws but there it was.
    Allied aircraft were regularly landing at Shannon and ships were pulling in to Irish ports and the crews were allowed to roam as long as they were unarmed.
     
  14. I only learned about that recently but it is fascinating. Well done Eire, despite everything.
     
  15. I can claim that I turned down the opportunity to have a chat with Dev. My Irish comrades uncle , a friend of Dev, asked us if we would like to meet him. "What would talk about?" we asked. Us poor ignorant children of the sixties, before the troubles, more interested in totty than politics. How we try to judge historic figures in a modern context , with a distant view of politics its so easy to say, what is right and wrong.