MISSING LINK ON NEUTRALITY

 

Sir, - In September 1939, at de Valera's behest, Dr Michael Rynne, the legal officer to the Department of External Affairs, composed overnight an aide memoire condemning the neutrality of Ireland. While a declaration of neutrality was unnecessary, the Government did cause the League of Nations to be informed that it was the intention to maintain Ireland's neutrality in the present European war. At the same time, it instructed its representatives abroad to notify governments to which they were accredited, to the same effect.

Joe Walshe, the Secretary of the department, was excluded by de Valera from the composition of the aide memoire. Walshe, with the British, had felt that the less put on paper about Irish neutrality, the better. The British ignored the communication and asked the Irish not to publish it.

Dr Rynne however, in spite of British objections, managed to have it published in New York in 1940 as an appendix to Deak and Jessup's Neutrality Laws and Regulations of the World. He remembered it well. he checked the galley proofs. The book, he told me a long time ago, had a dark greyish paper cover, was about 2 1/2 inches thick and he paid £13 to order it (airmail) from New York for External Affairs.

He could put his hand on it in the Legal Library, he said, but no fortunately the library had shifted since his day. The Library of Congress in Washington tailed to locate it. That particular edition seemingly has vanished from the face of the earth. In the end, as regards non publication of that fateful aide memoire, it could be said that Walshe got his wish and Maffey (later Lord Rugby) had his way.

Stillorgan and Dun Laoghaire Public Libraries have now joined in a worldwide search for it. Its recovery would bring appeasement. "A mini Watergate", the late Dr Rynne half jokingly referred to its mysterious erasure from the records. A copy of the original NY 1940 paperback must be somewhere, nestling behind something perhaps: part of a collection bundle. Foreign Affairs failed to find it.

The Irish Times helped to materialise a mischievous poltergeist pistol. Maybe it could now embody this elusive phantom aide memoire book. The late and greatly talented Dr Michael Rynne would very likely be pleased if it did. Such a move would finally checkmate whatever mini Watergate there might have been. Go raibh mile maith agat.

Yours etc.,

Mount Merrion,

Co Dublin.