Have been hunting around since the Irish Second World War neutrality debate I attended on Monday, and I see that the protagonists, Ryle Dwyer and Geoff Roberts, have clashed about this before. I found this article by Ryle Dwyer in the Irish Examiner, September 26, 2009, So we should have sided with the Allies in 1942? That’s nonsense.
Another article arguing the same case, by Kevin Myers, a columnist for the Irish Independent, appeared the following month. De Valera had an exceedingly difficult game to play, without the benefit of hindsight.
Myers’ case is summed up by these two paragraphs.
“Any wise government avoids war, even when well-armed: for Eire, without a navy or an air-force, artillery or armour, to have freely provoked war with the Third Reich would have been a suicidal folly unsurpassed in the annals of democracy. Nonetheless, the issue of war-time neutrality remains alive in Ireland: hence the endless books on the subject. Yet do Spain, Sweden and Switzerland - all of them essentially passively complicit with the Third Reich - still fret about their strategies for national survival, 1939-45?”
[Here I have to butt in and say: yes, in Sweden they do still fret about it.]
The Kevin Myers article continues: “As Ryle Dwyer points out, just days after Eire celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Easter Rising, German night-bombers crossed Britain and laid waste to Belfast, without interruption from the RAF. No part of Ireland would have been immune from attack, as was shown in February 1941, when German Condor bombers … based in Bordeaux-Merignac successfully attacked Iceland. What might the Luftwaffe have done, and at their leisure, to Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway, in daylight-raids flying over the Bay of Biscay?”
A blogger on Politics.ie writes : “Essentially, the main reason people give for their desire to have Ireland involved in WW2 is down to moral reasons based entirely on hindsight. Realistically speaking, Ireland would have suffered greatly from direct involvement while still being unable to provide much advantage to the allies.”