Minister Flanagan launches Documents in Irish Foreign Policy, Volume IX20 November 2014
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D., this evening launched the latest in the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series, covering the period when the Free State became a Republic and the first Inter-Party Government was established under Taoiseach John A. Costello.
Volume 9 gives a fascinating insight into major events which took place between 1948 and 1951, including Ireland’s decision to leave the Commonwealth and Minister for External Affairs Seán MacBride’s decision to seek the approval of Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid, for Ireland’s foreign policy.
It also contains reports of Winston Churchill speaking of his hopes for a United Ireland in 1948 and the Government’s concern at the prospect of a third world war.
Speaking at the launch in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade this evening, Minister Flanagan said:
“Reflecting Irish society during this time, our foreign policy was strongly influenced by Catholicism, despite Minister Sean MacBride’s Republican politics. In the first days of the first Inter-Party government a “message of filial piety” is sent to the Pope, drafted by MacBride himself. We see Ireland’s ambassador to the Holy See, Joseph Walshe, petitioning MacBride to divert Secret Service monies to help the Christian Democrats defeat the Communists in the 1948 Italian General Election. And yet, that same year, Ambassador Walshe recommends that he himself be withdrawn in protest at the Vatican’s refusal to appoint an Irishman as Papal Nuncio in Dublin.
“A similar tension, or ambivalence, perhaps, is evident in MacBride’s position on Israel and Palestine. Often seen as a supporter of Palestinian rights, MacBride as minister drew analogies between Ireland’s and Israel’s claims for independence: ‘Just as the people of Israel, in their efforts to achieve national independence, have always felt a profound sympathy with the parallel struggle of the Irish nation, so too the memory of the earliest tribulations of Israel was amongst those that fortified the people of Ireland during the past centuries.’
“It is during this period too that Ireland leaves the Commonwealth and becomes a Republic. When Taoiseach Costello makes the unexpected announcement while visiting Canada in 1948, the Ambassador to Canada is suddenly ‘laid down with flu’.”
Minister Flanagan said: “Collectively, the sense we get is of a diplomatic corps that is imbued and energised with an extraordinary sense of ambition for such a small country. It is something of which we can be rightly proud. And we should be ever grateful to those diplomats who worked so hard to make our voices, the voices of the Irish people, heard.”
Documents on Irish Foreign Policy is a project of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Royal Irish Academy, and the National Archives of Ireland and was established in 1997. The project publishes essential source material on the development of Irish foreign policy since 1919.
Minister Flanagan was joined at the launch by Professor Mary Daly , President of the Royal Irish Academy, and Dr Michael Kennedy, Executive Editor of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy. Some 150 guests also attended the event in Iveagh House, headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
20 November 2014