foreign policy. It is my contention, therefore, in researching this unique period of Irish foreign policy and which I have clearly outlined in thisessay, that Irish Neutrality was an effective diplomatic device which deValera reasonably applied at a difficult time in the life of the embryonicIrish Free State in order to survive this period of world turmoil.
The Hague Convention (V) concerning ‘The Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in case of war on Land’, which wasagreed in 1907, details protections afforded to ‘neutral powers’but also responsibilities they must adhere to in wartime so asnot to create an advantage for any participating belligerent.
However, in the reality of wartime, the clinical nature of thisConvention is almost impossible to observe to the letter, anobservation clearly enunciated by Michael Rynne, the legaladviser to the Irish Department of External Affairs, in hismemorandum of July, 1942 to the Secretary of the Department, Joseph Walshe, detailing ‘The Legal Basis for Ireland’sNeutrality’. In it, he asserts that unless the Irish Governmentwas determined to observe this Convention as strictly defined,a virtual impossibility in Rynne’s opinion, then Irish neutralitywould not survive one week.
In the Second World War, Irelandwas unlike any other country which declared neutrality,primarily due to its geographical peripherality to the maintheatre of war yet its contiguous linkage to one of the principalbelligerents, Britain, through recent history, and closeeconomic ties. In fact as Eunan O’Halpin outlines, “Irishneutrality throughout the War cannot be properly understoodwithout reference to the influence of the legacy of theIndependence struggle on Anglo-Irish relations, Irish foreign
Herbert W. Briggs (ed.),
The Law of Nations: Cases, Documents and Notes
ed.),(1953) , pp.1033-38
MIchael Kennedy (ed.),
Documents on Irish Foreign Policy (DIFP) Vol. VII, 1941-45
, No.211, p.224