Courtesy Reuters

Unneutral Neutral Eire

DURING the war neutral Eire had a bad press in America, and indeed almost everywhere else. It was the only English-speaking country that held itself aloof, and the belligerent nations, preoccupied with their own battle for existence, could not reasonably have been expected to spare time or trouble to examine the basic causes of Eire's attitude. The late Arthur Griffith, father of the Sinn Fein movement, said that the British had built a paper wall around Ireland; on the inside they painted what they wanted the Irish to know about the rest of the world, on the outside what they wanted the rest of the world to know about Ireland. During the war this system operated in striking fashion, not, indeed, because the British were in any way malicious toward their neutral neighbors -- actually the contrary was the case -- but rather because, in the nature of things, it hardly could have been otherwise. Americans may not realize that Eire has no news agencies of her own. The Irish newspapers cannot afford to keep their own correspondents abroad, and every word of foreign news that appears in the Irish newspapers comes from British or American sources. The result had been that during the war Eire found herself virtually dumb, while she was being subject to widespread, and sometimes even vindictive, misrepresentation in all the Allied countries.

The roots of Irish neutrality lie deep in history. Long before the war, Mr. de Valera announced that if a world struggle should occur Eire would keep out of it. Neutrality, almost by definition, is something negative; but Mr. de Valera raised it to the dignity of a national principle, largely because he wanted to be able to prove to the world at large that, after more than seven hundred years of subjection to England, the 26 counties of Southern Ireland at last were really free. What better proof of national independence could there be than the fact that while Great Britain was fighting for

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