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July 10, 2005


Young  Irelander


That comes across as a very hostile post towards my country.

As for the condolences offered to Hitler, this was clearly a poor move by de Valera and his ministers begged him not to do it but he felt obliged to out of respect towards Hempel who had shown respect towards Ireland's neutral stance. It's worth noting Hempel's transmitter was seized in '43 at the insistance of the American government.

I note Andrew has talked about Irish neutrality and that it should be trated with contempt but here's the other side to the story that I imagine was not told to those of a unionist background:

- Luftwaffe pilots who crashed in Ireland were interned, Allied pilots were released to the North.

- Irish military intelligence worked closely with their British counterparts on what to do in case the Germans invaded Ireland.

- Irish weather reports were passed on to the Allies and these were crucial towards the timing of the D-Day landings.

- Positions of German submarines were regularly reported to the Royal Navy through secret messages.

- An Emergency Powers Act was introduced to deal with the IRA who sought a confrontation between Ireland and Britain. Any IRA activity was dealt with during the war, quite harshly by de Valera.

- When Belfast was attacked, 13 Fire Engines were sent to Belfast when it was bobmed and Dev formally protested to the Germans claiming they were hitting "our people".

- At the end of May, 1941, Dublin was hit by a Luftwaffe raid which killed 38 people and it's speculated this was a deliberate warning not to assist the Allies in any way.

- And, most notably, around 60,000 Irish people enlisted to fight for the British and twice that amount worked in munitions factories.

Considering only 20 years previously the State was in turmoil, I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of at all.

Irish neutrality is often criticised I note by the British but I don't think they know the full facts. Churchill indeed criticised Irish neutrality after the war yet he had to know the assistance the British were receiving.

I have seen in my history books as a child the wooden defences that the Irish relied on to make it LOOK LIKE they were real. We had laughable defences but we still helped out more than a neutral country should and as the saying goes, we were "neutral on the side of the British".

I note today is a day when those Irish who served with the British are honoured, and I myself had a grandfather who served with the Desert Rats in Africa and when he returned he had to hide his involvement from his countrymen.

I look forward to the day when all of us can stop nit-picking about the past and just acknowledge that more good was done than bad and that the evil of the Nazis was taken care of, largely due to quite admirable co-operation considering the feelings of the time.

Gerry O'Sullivan

A cheap shot, David.

All of Ireland is horrified by what happened in London last Thursday. That you choose to make a tawdry political point about an incident of over 60 years ago is very disappointing.

And just to correct you on one point - de Valera was Taoiseach (Prime Minister) at the time, not President.

David Vance

Gerry and Young Ireland,

Perhaps had you both lived in Northern Ireland as I have for 30 years of IRA terrorism - as bad as that which happened in London in it's own way - you might bridle as I do at the words of your PM as he expresses sorrow for the victims of Islamoterrorism whilst insisting that the masterminds of IRA terrorism get into the Government of NI. There is damn all cheap about the expensive loss of life the IRA caused and there is damn all cheap about me pointing out DOUBLE STANDARDS.

I have NO DOUBT of your sincerity and have lots of respect for you both - but as for politicians? Sorry, I don't think they deserve a break.

Gerry O'Sullivan


Please don't doubt the sincerity of the people of the Irish Republic when they express their condolences to the people of the UK. Bertie Ahern wasn't just representing himself, or the Dáil or the Fianna Fáil party as he signed that book of condolence; he was representing all the people of the Irish Republic.

What I bridled at was your apparent dismissal of that expression of condolence by the democratically elected head of our government, by using a throwaway reference to an unfortunate historic gaffe made by one of his predecessors. That's what I meant by "cheap."

Likewise, I don't doubt the sincerity with which you hold your views vis-a-vis terrorism and Sinn Féin.


"There is damn all cheap about the expensive loss of life the IRA caused and there is damn all cheap about me pointing out DOUBLE STANDARDS."

Except that's not what you did. You clearly make reference to "30 years of IRA terrorism", but the Provos didn't even exist in the 1940s. Yes, there was an IRA, but they were no force to be reckoned with at the time.

/me *invoked Godwin's law*


What is very cheap is the determination to use the tragedy of last week to search around for any opportunity to score provinicial political points re; the Irish situation.

David, much to my disgust at him has excelled at this in the last few days. He is usually better than that and one of the reasons I like ATW is that I often agree with much of what he says and the principles he holds, where I disagree with him I can usually do so while accepting the validity of his arguments. On this occasion I can't. His use of the bombings to launch digs at the BBC and the Irish govt. are petty and uncalled for. he should be ashamed.

If Mr Ahern had not opened or refused to sign a book of condolence what would David have said then ?

Oilbhéar Chromaill

Making cheap political points on the back of the London bombing atrocity is beneath contempt but, unfortunately, par for the course for David.

Of course he neglects to mention that not all the 3,000+ killed in the troubles were slain by the IRA, that slightly less than half were killed by unionist paramilitaries and British and Sub province security forces and that it was loyalist invasions of nationalist areas in 1969 which started it all and gave birth to the Provisional IRA.


I think those arguments are best left out of this thread, but I would like to think David would reflect on some of his comments re the bombings and realise at the very least that some of them really were just not approriate or in keeping with the gravity of what has just occurred


It is absolutely no wonder to me that political and religious hatred and violence continues with comments like that David. Well done. You outdid yourself. A 30 year old gaffe and you use it to score points - in light of the tragedy in London or even without shame on you. Shame on you.

David Vance


Can't you count? Expressing the condolence of a nation on the death of a mass murderer is hardly a "gaffe" - Shame on you.


and David you still haven't explained why you felt it necessary to mention it.


You are deliberately misleading this conversation. The issue was your using the tragic London bombings as (another) attempt to pitch low and dare i say it, ignorant political views.

On the issue of de Velera's "gaffe" Dev did not express the condolence of a nation. He was paying personal respects. Being Irish I do not excuse nor agree with it but I do have serious issue with anyone questioning the integrity of my people.

As reported in the Irish Examiner this year:

"THEY were not going to have to wait very long because the news broke that day of Hitler's death.

De Valera responded by going to express condolence to Hempel, who warned that there could be trouble over the visit. "I do what I think is right," De Valera told him.

Following the death of US President Roosevelt little over two weeks earlier, de Valera paid a moving tribute and had the Dáil adjourn as a mark a respect, but there were no such gestures for Hitler. Why did the Taoiseach go to such lengths to express sympathy for the death of a man he despised? "Common gentlemanly feelings of sympathy with Dr Hempel in the hour of the country's collapse called for a gesture," De Valera explained privately. "Hitler was dead and there was no possibility of my reinforcing an already lost cause."

It would have been an "unpardonable discourtesy to the German nation and to Dr Hempel himself" not to have made an official gesture, De Valera added. And he was not about to insult Hempel, for whom he had a much higher regard than he had for Gray.

"During the whole of the war," the Taoiseach wrote, "Dr Hempel's conduct was irreproachable. He was always friendly and invariably correct in marked contrast with Gray. I certainly was not going to add to his humiliation in the hour of defeat."

De Valera's sympathy was not for Hitler or the Nazis, but for Edouard Hempel, a diplomat of the old school who helped the Irish Government to stay out of the war.

You might want to check your facts first.

Sidney Allinson

>>...- Luftwaffe pilots who crashed in Ireland were interned, Allied pilots were released to the North....<<<
This post by Young Irelander is not entirely correct.
In fact, all foreign aircrew of belligerent countries' planes that landed in Ireland during WWII were interned -- Allied and German alike. These airmen were held in two separate hut compounds at Curragh Camp. However, in late 1943 -- when it became clear which side would be winning the war -- interned Allied flyers were allowed to return to their home bases.


This comment is a cheap shot.

No-one points out that the English football team gave Nazi salutes to show respect to the Nazis, as did former british King edward VIII. Britain sent The Duke of Edinburgh (who had 3 nazi sisters believe it our not) to the funeral of emperor Hirohito responsible for many war crimes against British soldiers. No-one ever points out that the Royal family funded Hitlers election to Power in the 1st place! Not to mention Britain has killed mulitple millions more innocents than the Nazis ever did!


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