Irish neutrality
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 has a "traditional policy of military neutrality". In particular, Ireland remained neutral
Irish neutrality during World War II
The policy of Irish neutrality during World War II was adopted by Dáil Éireann at the instigation of Éamon de Valera, its Taoiseach upon the outbreak of hostilities in Europe and maintained throughout the conflict. De Valera refrained from joining either the Allies or Axis powers...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and has never been a member of NATO or the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

. The formulation and justification of the neutrality policy has varied over time. The compatibility of the policy with Ireland's membership of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 has been a point of debate in recent EU treaty referendum campaigns in Ireland.

Ireland's concept of neutrality

There are notable differences between Irish neutrality and traditional types of neutral states
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

  • While most neutral states maintain strong defence forces, Ireland has a relatively small defence force of approximately 10,500 personnel

  • While most neutral states do not allow any foreign military within their territory, Ireland has a long history of allowing military aircraft of various nations to refuel at Shannon Airport
    Shannon Airport
    Shannon Airport, is one of the Republic of Ireland's three primary airports along with Dublin and Cork. In 2010 around 1,750,000 passengers passed through the airport, making it the third busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin and Cork, and the fifth busiest airport on the island...

    . Under the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order, 1952, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, exceptionally, could grant permission to foreign military aircraft to overfly or land in the State. Confirmation was required that the aircraft in question be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and that the flights in question would not form part of military exercises or operations.

After the 2001 New York attacks, these conditions were "waived in respect of aircraft operating in pursuit of the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368, adopted unanimously on September 12, 2001, after expressing its determination to combat threats to international peace and security caused by acts of terrorism and recognising the right of individual and collective self-defense, the Council condemned...

". Irish government
Irish Government
The Government of Ireland is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland.-Members of the Government:Membership of the Government is regulated fundamentally by the Constitution of Ireland. The Government is headed by a prime minister called the Taoiseach...

s have always said that allowing aircraft to use Irish soil does not constitute participation in any particular conflict and is compatible with a neutral stance, instancing the transit of German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 troops between Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 through neutral Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 territory during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


A neutral state may also allow its citizens to serve in the armed forces of other, possibly belligerent
A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war"...

, nations. Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 does not restrict its citizens from serving in foreign armies and significant numbers of Irish citizens serve or have served in the British and to a lesser extent United States armies.

Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act, 1937 made it an offence to travel from Ireland to Spain to fight for either side in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. This applied both to Irish citizens and nationals of many other European countries.

World War II

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, which the Irish government referred to as the Emergency, Ireland decided to remain neutral.

The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 stated in his wartime speeches that small states should stay out of the conflicts of big powers; hence Ireland's policy was officially "neutral", and the country did not publicly declare its support for either side although in practice, while Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 pilots who crash-landed in Ireland and German sailors were interned, Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF), Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...

 (RCAF), and United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 (USAAF) pilots who crashed were usually allowed to cross the border into British territory (although some Allied personnel were also interned). The internees were referred to as "guests of the nation". The German embassy had to pay for their keep. If they were on a non-combative mission they were repatriated. While it was easy for Allied pilots to make that claim, it was not realistic for Luftwaffe pilots to make a similar claim. Towards the end of the war, the German embassy was unable to pay, so the internees had to work on local farms. Strict wartime press censorship had the effect of controlling a moral reaction to the war's unfolding events and reiterated the public position that Irish neutrality was morally superior to the stance of any of the combatants.

Allied aircraft were allowed to overfly County Donegal
County Donegal
County Donegal is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal. Donegal County Council is the local authority for the county...

 to bases in County Fermanagh
County Fermanagh
Fermanagh District Council is the only one of the 26 district councils in Northern Ireland that contains all of the county it is named after. The district council also contains a small section of County Tyrone in the Dromore and Kilskeery road areas....

. Many of these aircraft were manufactured in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, to be flown by the RAF. This was known as the Donegal Corridor
Donegal Corridor
The Donegal Corridor was a narrow strip of Irish airspace linking Lough Erne to the international waters of the Atlantic Ocean through which the Irish Government permitted flights by British military aircraft during World War II...

. Navigational markings are still, faintly, visible on mountains, such as Slieve League
Slieve League
Slieve League, sometimes Slieve Leag or Slieve Liag , is a mountain on the Atlantic coast of County Donegal, Republic of Ireland. At , it has Ireland's highest sea cliffs...

. There were many unfortunate crashes into these mountains. The bodies of dead airmen were handed over at the border. At the border the Guard of Honour performed a drill with reversed arms, a Bugler
Bugle (instrument)
The bugle is one of the simplest brass instruments, having no valves or other pitch-altering devices. All pitch control is done by varying the player's embouchure, since the bugle has no other mechanism for controlling pitch. Consequently, the bugle is limited to notes within the harmonic series...

 sounded the Last Post
Last Post
The "Last Post" can be either a B♭ bugle call within British Infantry regiments or an E♭ cavalry trumpet call in British Cavalry and Royal Regiment of Artillery used at Commonwealth military funerals and ceremonies commemorating those who have been killed in war.The two regimental traditions have...

 and a Chaplain
Traditionally, a chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting such as a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam or lay representative of a religion attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, police department, university, or private chapel...

 gave a Blessing
A blessing, is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, divine will, or one's hope or approval.- Etymology and Germanic paganism :...

. An Allied officer, embarrassed that the coffins' journeys were being continued in open lorries, thanked the Irish for the "honour". The reply was: "Ours is the honour, but yours is the glory".

USAAF aircraft en-route to North Africa refueled at Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport, is one of the Republic of Ireland's three primary airports along with Dublin and Cork. In 2010 around 1,750,000 passengers passed through the airport, making it the third busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin and Cork, and the fifth busiest airport on the island...

, flying boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...

s at nearby Foynes
Foynes is a village and major port in County Limerick in the midwest of Ireland, located at the edge of hilly land on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuary. The population of the town was 606 as of the 2006 census.-Foynes's role in aviation:...

. A total of 1,400 aircraft and 15,000 passengers passed through Foynes airport during the war years.

In the course of the war an estimated 70,000 citizens of neutral Ireland served as volunteers in the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

 (and another estimated 50,000 from Northern Ireland, and this figure does not include Irish people who were resident in Britain before the war (though many used aliases). Some 200,000 Irish migrated to England to participate in the war economy— most of them stayed after the war. Those who went without proper papers were liable to be conscripted
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. Irish military intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

G2 (Republic of Ireland)
G2 or G-2 is the national intelligence agency of Ireland. It is the military intelligence branch of the Irish Defence Forces, and also helps protect Ireland's national security. G2 is used in several western and NATO forces to refer to the Intelligence and Security branch of the staff function...

) shared information with the British military and even held secret meetings to decide what to do if Germany invaded Ireland in order to attack Britain, plans which were formulated into Plan W
Plan W
Plan W, during the Second World War, was a plan of joint military operations between Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland devised between 1940 and 1942, to be executed in the event of an invasion of Ireland by Nazi Germany....

, a plan for joint Irish and British military action should the Germans invade. However the Commander of the Irish Second Division based on the Northern Ireland border General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 Hugo McNeill had private discussions with the German Ambassador Edouard Hempel about German military assistance in the event of a British invasion from the north. De Valera declined Germany's offer of captured British weapons. The Germans did have a plan to simulate an invasion Ireland called Operation Green
Operation Green (Ireland)
Operation Green often also referred to as Case Green or Plan Green , was a full scale operations plan for a German invasion of Ireland in support of Operation Sea Lion . Despite its detailed nature, Green is thought to have been designed only as a credible threat, a feint, not an actual operation...

 similar to the Allies Operation Bodyguard
Operation Bodyguard
Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations during the build up to the 1944 invasion of north-western Europe. The aim of the operation was to mislead the German high command as to the exact date and location of the invasion...

 but it was only to be put into operation with the plans to conquer Britain, Operation Sea Lion. Irish weather reports were crucial to the timing of the D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...


On Easter Tuesday, April 15, 1941, 180 Luftwaffe bombers attacked Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

. De Valera responded immediately to a request for assistance from Basil Brooke
Basil Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough
Basil Stanlake Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough, Bt, KG, CBE, MC, PC, HML was an Ulster Unionist politician who became the third Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1943 and held office until 1963....

, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland was the de facto head of the Government of Northern Ireland. No such office was provided for in the Government of Ireland Act 1920. However the Lord Lieutenant, as with Governors-General in other Westminster Systems such as in Canada, chose to appoint someone...

. Within two hours, 13 fire tender
Fire apparatus
A fire apparatus, fire engine, fire truck, or fire appliance is a vehicle designed to assist in fighting fires by transporting firefighters to the scene and providing them with access to the fire, along with water or other equipment...

s from Dublin, Drogheda
Drogheda is an industrial and port town in County Louth on the east coast of Ireland, 56 km north of Dublin. It is the last bridging point on the River Boyne before it enters the Irish Sea....

, Dundalk
Dundalk is the county town of County Louth in Ireland. It is situated where the Castletown River flows into Dundalk Bay. The town is close to the border with Northern Ireland and equi-distant from Dublin and Belfast. The town's name, which was historically written as Dundalgan, has associations...

 and Dún Laoghaire
Dún Laoghaire
Dún Laoghaire or Dún Laoire , sometimes anglicised as "Dunleary" , is a suburban seaside town in County Dublin, Ireland, about twelve kilometres south of Dublin city centre. It is the county town of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County and a major port of entry from Great Britain...

 were on their way to assist their Belfast colleagues. De Valera followed up with his "they are our people" speech and formally protested to Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 instructed German radio not to repeat their report of the raid as Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 was surprised at the Irish reaction, which might influence Irish American
Irish American
Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. A total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau...

s to bring the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 into the war. Although there was a later raid on May 4, it was confined to the docks and shipyards. (See Belfast blitz
Belfast Blitz
The Belfast Blitz was an event that occurred on the night of Easter Tuesday, 15 April 1941 during World War II. Two hundred bombers of the German Air Force attacked the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Nearly one thousand people died as a result of the bombing and 1,500 were injured. In terms...


Ireland wanted to maintain a public stance of neutrality and refused to close the German and Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese embassies. Unlike many other non-combatant countries, Ireland did not declare war on the near-defeated Germany in order to seize German assets. Other neutral countries like Sweden and Switzerland expelled German embassy staff at the end of the war, as they no longer represented a state, but the German legation in Dublin was allowed to remain open.

Irish neutrality during the war was threatened from within by the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 (IRA) who sought to provoke a confrontation between Britain and Ireland. This plan collapsed however when IRA chief of staff Seán Russell
Seán Russell
Seán Russell was an Irish republican who held senior positions in the IRA until the end of the Irish War of Independence...

 died in a U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 off the Irish coast as part of Operation Dove
Operation Dove (Ireland)
Operation Dove also sometimes known as Operation Pigeon, was an Abwehr sanctioned mission devised in early 1940...

; the Germans also later came to realise they had overestimated the abilities of the IRA. The American Ambassador, David Gray stated that he once asked de Valera what he would do if German paratroopers 'liberated' Derry
Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille"...

. According to Gray, de Valera was silent for a time and then replied "I don't know". De Valera viewed the IRA threat to the authority of the state as sufficiently significant to intern 5,000 IRA members without trial at the Curragh Camp for the duration of the war.

At ceremonies for the first Holocaust Memorial Day
Holocaust Memorial Day
Holocaust Memorial Day or Holocaust Remembrance Day may refer to one of several commemorations of the Holocaust.-See also:* United Nations Holocaust Memorial* List of Holocaust memorials and museums...

 in Ireland, January 26, 2003, Justice Minister Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell is a Senior Counsel in the Bar Council of Ireland and a former politician. A grandson of Irish revolutionary Eoin MacNeill, McDowell was a founding member of the Progressive Democrats political party in the mid-1980s...

 openly apologized for an Irish wartime policy that was inspired by "a culture of muted anti-semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 in Ireland," which discouraged the immigration of thousands of Europe's threatened Jews. He said that "at an official level the Irish state was at best coldly polite and behind closed doors antipathetic, hostile and unfeeling toward the Jews". In 1966 a forest was planted in De Valera's honour at Kfar Kana near Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...


Many German spies
SPY is a three-letter acronym that may refer to:* SPY , ticker symbol for Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts* SPY , a satirical monthly, trademarked all-caps* SPY , airport code for San Pédro, Côte d'Ivoire...

 were sent to Ireland, but all were captured quickly as a result of good intelligence and sometimes the ineptitude of the spies. The chief spy of Abwehr
The Abwehr was a German military intelligence organisation from 1921 to 1944. The term Abwehr was used as a concession to Allied demands that Germany's post-World War I intelligence activities be for "defensive" purposes only...

 was Hermann Görtz
Hermann Görtz
Hermann Görtz was a German spy in Britain and Ireland before and during World War II.-First trip to Broadstairs:Hermann Görtz arrived in Britain on the 29 August 1935 with a secretary, Marianne Emig. They spent a few weeks in Suffolk and eventually moved to Broadstairs and rented a house...

. In 1983 RTÉ
RTÉ is the abbreviation for Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the public broadcasting service of the Republic of Ireland.RTE may also refer to:* Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 25th Prime Minister of Turkey...

 made Caught in a Free State
Caught in a Free State
Caught in a Free State was a dramatised television series made by RTÉ in 1983. This four-part series was about German spies in neutral Ireland during World War II, known in Ireland as "The Emergency".-Production:...

, a dramatised television series about Görtz and his fellow spies.

As Ireland was neutral, Irish cargo ships
Irish Mercantile Marine during World War II
The Irish Mercantile Marine during World War II continued essential overseas trade during the conflict, a period referred to as The Long Watch by Irish mariners....

 continued to sail with full navigation lights. They had large tricolours and the word "EIRE" painted large on their sides and decks. At that time, Allied ships travelled in convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 for protection from the U-boat ‘wolfpacks’. If a ship was torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

ed, it was left behind since the other ships could not stop for fear of becoming a target. Irish ships often stopped, and they rescued more than 500 seamen, and some airmen, from many nations. However many Irish ships were attacked by belligerents on both sides. Over 20% of Irish seamen, on clearly marked neutral vessels, lost their lives.

While civilian aircraft in other countries were frequently requisitioned for military purposes, Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus Group Plc is the flag carrier of Ireland. It operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft serving Europe and North America. It is Ireland's oldest extant airline, and its second largest after low-cost rival Ryanair...

 continued to fly a service between Dublin and Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 throughout the war.

Irish neutrality during World War II had broad support, with only one vote against it in Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 that of James Dillon, a Fine Gael
Fine Gael
Fine Gael is a centre-right to centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the single largest party in Ireland in the Oireachtas, in local government, and in terms of Members of the European Parliament. The party has a membership of over 35,000...

Teachta Dála
A Teachta Dála , usually abbreviated as TD in English, is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas . It is the equivalent of terms such as "Member of Parliament" or "deputy" used in other states. The official translation of the term is "Deputy to the Dáil", though a more literal...

 that demanded Ireland side with the Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

. However, as noted earlier, tens of thousands of Irish citizens fought in the Allied armies against the Nazis, mostly in the British army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...


Winston Churchill, the British wartime Prime Minister, made an outspoken attack on the Irish Government and in particular Éamon de Valera in his radio broadcast on VE Day. Churchill maintained that the British government displayed restraint on the Irish state while the de Valera government were allowed to "frolic with the Germans". Churchill maintained that the British could have invaded the Irish state but displayed "considerable restraint" in not doing so. De Valera replied to Churchill in a radio broadcast which drew praise from political opponents and the media in general in Ireland for its restraint:

Mr. Churchill makes it clear that in certain circumstances he would have violated our neutrality and that he would justify his action by Britain’s necessity. It seems strange to me that Mr. Churchill does not see that this, if accepted, would mean that Britain’s necessity would become a moral code and that when this necessity became sufficiently great, other people’s rights were not to count….this same code is precisely why we have the disastrous succession of wars… shall it be world war number three?

Ireland applied to join the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in 1945, but this was blocked by an objection in the security council. Sean MacBride
Seán MacBride
Seán MacBride was an Irish government minister and prominent international politician as well as a Chief of Staff of the IRA....

 considered that the UN boycott of Ireland was originally agreed at the 1945 Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

 by Churchill and Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...


The Cold War

During the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, Ireland maintained its policy of neutrality. It did not align itself officially with NATO or the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 either. It refused to join NATO because Northern Ireland was still a part of the United Kingdom. Ireland offered to set up a separate alliance with the USA but this was refused. This offer was linked in part to the $133 million received from the Marshall Aid Plan.

However, secret transmission of information from the government to the CIA started in 1955. The link was established by Liam Cosgrave
Liam Cosgrave
Liam Cosgrave is an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as Taoiseach and as Leader of Fine Gael . He was a Teachta Dála from 1943 to 1981....

 via a Mr Cram and the Irish embassy in London, and was not revealed until December 2007. In 1962-63, during the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

, Seán Lemass
Seán Lemass
Seán Francis Lemass was one of the most prominent Irish politicians of the 20th century. He served as Taoiseach from 1959 until 1966....

 authorised searches of aircraft that stopped over at Shannon
Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport, is one of the Republic of Ireland's three primary airports along with Dublin and Cork. In 2010 around 1,750,000 passengers passed through the airport, making it the third busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin and Cork, and the fifth busiest airport on the island...

 en route between Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 countries, and Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, for "warlike material".

Peace-keeping actions as a United Nations contingent

Irish Defence Forces
Irish Defence Forces
The armed forces of Ireland, known as the Defence Forces encompass the Army, Naval Service, Air Corps and Reserve Defence Force.The current Supreme Commander of the Irish Defence forces is His Excellency Michael D Higgins in his role as President of Ireland...

 have seen active service as part of United Nations peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 activities initially in the early 1960s Congo Crisis
Congo Crisis
The Congo Crisis was a period of turmoil in the First Republic of the Congo that began with national independence from Belgium and ended with the seizing of power by Joseph Mobutu...

, and subsequently in Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 (UNFICYP) and the Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...


Current policy

In February 2006, the Minister for Defence
Minister for Defence (Ireland)
The Minister for Defence is the senior minister at the Department of Defence in the Government of Ireland. Under new arrangements this department is being merged with the Department of Justice over which Mr. Shatter will also preside....

 Willie O'Dea
Willie O'Dea
Willie O'Dea is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and a Teachta Dála for the Limerick City constituency. He served as the Minister for Defence from September 2004 until 18 February 2010, when he resigned from his post due to controversy over a defamation case.-Early and private life:O'Dea was born...

 announced that the Irish government would open talks on joining the European Union battle groups. O'Dea said that joining the battlegroups would not affect Ireland's traditional policy of military neutrality, and that a UN mandate would be required for all battlegroup operations with Irish participation. Green Party
Green Party (Ireland)
The Green Party is a green political party in Ireland. It was founded as the Ecology Party of Ireland in 1981 by Dublin teacher Christopher Fettes. The party became the Green Alliance in 1983 and in 1987 was renamed to its current title in English...

 foreign affairs spokesperson John Gormley
John Gormley
John Gormley is an Irish politician. He was the leader of the Irish Green Party from 2007 to 2011, and was a Teachta Dála for the Dublin South East constituency from 1997 to 2011. He served as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government from 2007–11...

 condemned the decision, saying that the government was "discarding the remnants of Irish neutrality".

However the opinion of Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen
Matti Vanhanen
Matti Taneli Vanhanen is a Finnish politician. He is a former Prime Minister of Finland and a former Chairman of the Centre Party. In the second half of 2006 he was President of the European Council. In his earlier career he was a journalist...

 is that his country is no longer neutral due to EU membership
Member State of the European Union
A member state of the European Union is a state that is party to treaties of the European Union and has thereby undertaken the privileges and obligations that EU membership entails. Unlike membership of an international organisation, being an EU member state places a country under binding laws in...

 and its Common Foreign and Security Policy
Common Foreign and Security Policy
The Common Foreign and Security Policy is the organised, agreed foreign policy of the European Union for mainly security and defence diplomacy and actions. CFSP deals only with a specific part of the EU's external relations, which domains include mainly Trade and Commercial Policy and other areas...

. It is unknown to what extent other EU states such as Ireland agree with this analysis.

2001–present Afghanistan War

Despite its policy of neutrality, Ireland has supplied the NATO-led ISAF
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 mission in the 2001–present Afghanistan War
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 with a running total of 120 Irish troops as trainers. The troops are provided under United Nations mandate. As at the 8 June 2011, there were seven personnel there.

2003 invasion of Iraq

The Irish government did not take a position on the 2003 Invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 planes were allowed to refuel at Shannon Airport during the conflict. As a member of the UN Security Council, Ireland voted yes to Resolution 1441 which threatened "serious consequences" if Iraq did not comply with weapons inspectors.

See also

  • Swedish neutrality
    Swedish neutrality
    Swedish neutrality refers to Sweden's policy of neutrality in armed conflicts, which has been in effect since the early 19th century. The policy originated largely as a result of Sweden's involvement in the Napoleonic Wars during which over a third of the country's territory was lost, including the...

  • History of Ireland
    History of Ireland
    The first known settlement in Ireland began around 8000 BC, when hunter-gatherers arrived from continental Europe, probably via a land bridge. Few archaeological traces remain of this group, but their descendants and later Neolithic arrivals, particularly from the Iberian Peninsula, were...

  • History of Northern Ireland
    History of Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland is today one of the four countries of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, having been created as a separate legal entity on 3 May 1921, under the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

  • Irish Shipping Limited
    Irish Shipping Limited
    Irish Shipping Limited was an Irish state-owned deepsea shipping company, formed during World War II for the purpose of supplying the country's import needs. Its ships were usually named after trees. Its contribution to Irish neutrality was recognised by the government after the war...

  • Seville Declarations on the Treaty of Nice

External links

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