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De Valera responds to churchill

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jodonnell

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Sceala Irish Craic Forum Discussion:     De Valera responds to churchill

In 1942 Winston Churchill offered Eamon de Valera a united Ireland in exchange for wartime support. De Valera did not forget that Churchill was the leader behind the Black and tans, he did not like or trust Churchill.

It is known and accepted by serious historians that Michael Collins loathed Churchill, despised him and considered churchill's word when it came to the Irish, worthless.
DeValera also despised Churchill, alongside most Irish who unlike many other peoples had not forgotten Winston Churchill was the man behind the Suvla Bay disaster, where thousands of Irish volunteers who volunteered for WW1 for Ireland, had died needlessly because of incompetent and arrogant Churchill of the Dardenelles.

So no surprise the Ireland unity offer was turned down, Ireland would stay neutral.
In his Victory in Europe Day radio broadcast, British Prime Minister Churchill launched a strong attack on the Irish government's policy of neutrality and de Valera in particular, while being careful to distinguish that from any criticism of the Irish people as a whole or of individual Irishmen - a nuance that failed to be communicated.

The sense of envelopment, which might at any moment turn to strangulation, lay heavy upon us. We had only the northwestern approach between Ulster and Scotland through which to bring in the means of life and to send out the forces of war. Owing to the action of Mr. de Valera, so much at variance with the temper and instinct of thousands of southern Irishmen, who hastened to the battlefront to prove their ancient valor, the approaches which the southern Irish ports and airfields could so easily have guarded were closed by the hostile aircraft and U-boats.
Churchill was here contrasting de Valera with tens of thousands of volunteers from Ireland who chose to fight for the Allied forces despite Ireland's neutrality.

This was indeed a deadly moment in our life, and if it had not been for the loyalty and friendship of the north of Ireland we should have been forced to come to close quarters with Mr. de Valera or perish forever from the earth. However, with a restraint and poise to which, I say, history will find few parallels, we never laid a violent hand upon them, which at times would have been quite easy and quite natural, and left the de Valera Government to frolic with the German and later with the Japanese representatives to their heart's content.
When I think of these days I think also of other episodes and personalities. I do not forget Lieutenant-Commander Esmonde, V.C., D.S.O., Lance-Corporal Keneally, V.C., Captain Fegen, V.C., and other Irish heroes that I could easily recite, and all bitterness by Britain for the Irish race dies in my heart. I can only pray that in years which I shall not see, the shame will be forgotten and the glories will endure, and that the peoples of the Ireland and her surrounding islands and of the British Commonwealth of Nations will walk together in mutual comprehension and forgiveness.

De Valera's reply, also in a radio broadcast, won widespread respect and praise in Ireland from even his bitterest opponents. However, there was strong opposition in some sections of opinion in combatant countries. De Valera told Radio Éireann listeners:

It is indeed fortunate that Britain's necessity did not reach the point when Mr. Churchill would have invaded Ireland. All credit to him that he successfully resisted the temptation which, I have not doubt, many times assailed him in his difficulties and to which I freely admit many leaders might have easily succumbed. It is indeed hard for the strong to be just to the weak, but acting justly always has its rewards.

By resisting his temptation in this instance, Mr. Churchill, instead of adding another horrid chapter to the already bloodstained record of the relations between England and this country, has advanced the cause of international morality an important step - one of the most important, indeed, that can be taken on the road to the establishment of any sure basis for peace.

Mr. Churchill is proud of Britain's stand alone, after France had fallen and before America entered the War. Could he not find in his heart the generosity to acknowledge that there is a small nation that stood alone not for one year or two, but for several hundred years against aggression, that endured spoliations, famines, massacres in endless succession, that was clubbed many times into insensibility, but that each time on returning to consciousness took up the fight anew, a small nation that could never be got to accept defeat and has never surrendered her soul?

Mr. Churchill is justly proud of his nation's perseverance against heavy odds. But we in this island are prouder still of our people's perseverance for freedom through all the centuries. We, of our time, have played our part in the perseverance, and we have pledged ourselves to the dead generations who have preserved intact for us this glorious heritage, that we, too, will strive to be faithful to the end, and pass on this tradition unblemished.
As a speech, it probably counts among de Valera's finest and even his opponents spoke of their pride in his words

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