I passed on the report – see BLOG OF 23 AUGUST.
The USA, the UK and their Allies were setting up NATO, Ireland’s Coalition Government had declared that the State was a Republic and was deemed to have left the British Commonwealth. Britain’s Labour Government created a new Government of Ireland Act purporting to vest sovereignty of the Six Counties in the (Mickey Mouse) “Parliament of Northern Ireland.” The primary interest of Washington and London in Ireland was strategic. (Orwell’s 1984 reduced Britain to Airstrip One, and Ireland would do nicely for Airstrip Two for NATO’s founders.) The CIA prepared a report approved by US Army, Navy and Air Force authorities.
It’s possible they consulted Irish historians or historians well versed in Irish history and sympathetic to Ireland. For it is, in my opinion an excellent briefing, free of condescension, exaggeration or the “schoolboy howlers” today emanating from exalted pundits and pulpits.
Following a brief summary of Irish history, a description of the developments since “in the parliamentary elections of 1918 the independence-bent Sinn Fein organisation swept the polls in Ireland” it notes that “political violence has faded from the scene in Ireland” it comments on Ireland’s neutrality in the Second World War
–“Although anti-axis in sympathies Ireland was neutral in World War II primarily, of course, because it was never attacked. Partition was also an extremely important factor, the Irish Government fearing, with much justification, that an alliance with Britain would result in civil disorder. Furthermore, always distrustful of Great Powers’ motives and possessed of a small country’s reluctance to become involved in their conflicts. Partition, however, still influences Irish thinking about the North Atlantic Pact.”
(May I digress from the CIA text to remark that de Valera wanted the League of Nations to apply sanctions, even Military Sanctions against Italy and was prepared to send Irish troops to stop the Rape of Abyssinia. But Britain was happy to let Italian troops, arms and armour pass through the British controlled Suez Canal on their mission. Winston Churchill heartily supported Mussolini, and Anthony Eden described de Valera as a firebrand, or some such character. And an MI6 Agent, Major Hugh Pollard, who had form in Ireland in 1920 was instrumental in launching Franco’s attack on Spanish democracy. In1932 de Valera wanted the League of Nations to apply sanctions against Japan, when Japan attacked Manchuria. Again, Britain, and France were happy to facilitate Japanese aggression. No wonder Irish Governments in those less enlightened days were “distrustful of Great Powers’ motives!) BBut back to the CIA – “The Irish are nonetheless extremely anxious to make their influence felt in world affairs. Their able representation and forward-looking policies in the League of Nations gained them the respect of other nations and increased their own confidence in conducting foreign relations. They have indicated enthusiasm for the proposed Council of Europe.”
The report is very good on Irish institutions, parties and personalities. It notes the less than robust support for the Independence Movement of the Catholic Hierarchy but the strong support of it from many of the parish priests. It notes that the most law-abiding respectable citizens have not actively supported the IRA for many years, but still sympathise. It reckons that Taoiseach John A Costello, one of the country’s ablest and wealthiest lawyers, is probably over-optimistic about an early end to partition.
On Fianna Fail it says- “Fianna Fail is the party of Eamon de Valera. Its policies on international affairs are influenced by intense nationalism and by disillusionment with Big Power politics which began to harden in 1935-36 when de Valera advocated a stronger League of Nations line with Italy than the United Kingdom were prepared to allow. It is perhaps the most neutrality-minded of the parties.”