Propaganda, Censorship and Irish Neutrality in the Second World War

Propaganda, Censorship and Irish Neutrality in the Second World War

Propaganda, Censorship and Irish Neutrality in the Second World War

Propaganda, Censorship and Irish Neutrality in the Second World War

Synopsis

Allied propaganda and Eire censorship were a vital part of the conflict over Irish neutrality in the Second World War. Based upon original research in archives in Ireland, Great Britain, the United States and Canada, this study opens a new page in the history of wartime propaganda andcensorship. It examines the channels of propaganda , including the press and other print media, broadcasting and film, employed in Eire and the agencies which operated them, and the structure and operations of the Eire censorship bureau which sought to repress them. It also looks at the role played by Irish-Americans in the conflict, some of whom supported, while others opposed, Irish neutrality. Which side could win this "war of words"? Could British and American propaganda overcome Eire neutrality, or would re censorship guarantee that it could not? In thisdetailed and wide-ranging examination of the "war of words" over Eire neutrality, the author addresses such subjects as public opinion, government policies, propaganda planning, objectives, content and channels of dissemination, and the purpose and tactics of censorship.

Excerpt

The neutrality of Eire (southern Ireland) during the Second World War – ‘the Emergency’, as it was designated in Ireland – was a matter of grave concern to the Allied powers Great Britain and the United States. Eire was one of five European nations that remained neutral throughout the war, but, unlike Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal, it did so for both practical and emotional considerations. Irish leaders saw engaging in the war as making Eire the target of German air and naval warfare; but they were also republicans who resented the partition that had been imposed following Ireland’s war of independence against Britain in 1919–1921, and hoped to recreate Ireland as a united, republican and free nation. The Eire government saw deciding for neutrality as exercising its sovereign rights, and also expressing the wishes of a vast majority of the Irish people.

War began in September 1939, and Eire neutrality was problematic for the British and for the United States, which, though neutral until December 1941, clearly leaned towards support of Great Britain. Both London and Washington saw neutral Eire as a clear and present danger because of its strategic location relative to Atlantic supply convoys. Eire was Britain’s ‘back door’, so to speak, and a neutral Eire meant that the door was open. Allied propaganda was aimed at persuading the Irish to close it. However, Eire remained officially neutral through to the end of the war, with its censorship focused on squelching this propaganda. This was the ‘war of words’ over Eire neutrality that was an essential part of Eire’s war–time relationship with the Anglo-American alliance. The alliance may have scored at least a small victory. There is strong evidence that, official neutrality policy notwithstanding, Dublin was more sympathetic to London and Washington than to Berlin. British and American airmen shot down on Eire soil were released and returned to Northern Ireland whereas downed Luftwaffe pilots were interned, and both the United States and Britain supplied Eire with military and other aid. Thousands of Irish went to Britain to work in munitions plants, and one of the great heroes of the RAF was Eire-born ‘Paddy’ Finucane, a Spitfire ace killed in action in 1942.

Neutral Eire has become a subject of considerable historical interest. Books addressing the subject, often within the broader context of political and diplomatic relations, include such works as T. Ryle Dwyer, Irish Neutrality and the USA 1939–47 and Strained Relations: Ireland at Peace and the USA at War 1941–45; John P. Duggan, Neutral Ireland and the Third Reich; Robert Fisk, In Time of War: Ireland, Ulster and the Price of Neutrality 1939–45; Paul Canning, British Policy towards Ireland 1921–1941; Dermot Keogh, Ireland & Europe 1919–1989:

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