The Origins of Éire's Neutrality

Ian S. Wood

in Britain, Ireland and the Second World War

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780748623273
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651412 | DOI:
The Origins of Éire's Neutrality

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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When, on the evening of Sunday, 3 September 1939, Éamon de Valera broadcast to the people of Éire, as the Irish state had been renamed two years earlier, Britain and France had already declared war on Germany. His wholly predictable message was that his government would stay out of the conflict, adhering, it has been said, to a stance of non-belligerency rather than one of neutrality in the sense in which that word had been used and refined over many years by jurists and writers on interstate relations. De Valera's statement was a product not only of the dramatic shift of political power that had brought him to office in 1932, but also of the 1921 treaty itself.

Keywords: Éamon de Valera; Second World War; non-belligerency; neutrality; interstate relations; Britain; France; Germany

Chapter.  9160 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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