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Henry Judd

Eire Protests Neutrality Violation

(February 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 6, 9 February 1942, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“So far as we Irish are concerned, the landing of Americans in Northern Ireland is the same thing as the landing of the Germans in Norway. We consider the landings an aggression against the Irish nation.” (Patrick Maxewell, Nationalist member of the Ulster Parliament)


When Hitler’s troops sneaked past the defenses of Norway and planted themselves in that country against the will of its people, the world protested this criminal act, “I did it for your own good, to protect, you from the English,” proclaimed the Fuehrer. How everyone laughed and ridiculed this lie! And correctly so.

When Hitler’s partner, Il Duce, sneaked up on Albania one dark night and occupied that country, he told the world: “I am the friend of Albania. I did it to save the country from the democracies.” And again every honest man laughed up his sleeve and called Hitler’s stooge a liar. And correctly so.

When the Japanese Mikado five years ago hurled his troops against defenseless China, he said: “I am doing this because I love you and want to save you from the white devils who are ruining your country.” Every worker knew that he too lied in his throat; that the only result of Japanese attacks upon China has been to lay waste that country – just as the attacks upon Norway, Albania, etc., have had the same result.

And even if we were to use the most high powered microscope, it would be well nigh impossible to discern any essential difference between these actions and the occupation last week of Northern Ireland by an American AEF. The fact that it was done by those who preach that this is a war for “democracy” only makes matters worse. It was aggression against the national independence of the Irish people. Why do we say this?

Because the Irish government was not consulted in the matter, and knew nothing about it – as Roosevelt has admitted – until the troops had begun to land. How do such actions differ from Hitler landing in Norway and then announcing – Boys, here I am!

Because it violates one of the principles laid down in the Atlantic Charter of Roosevelt and Churchill according to which every nation – small or big – has the right of self-determination and control over its own destiny. The government of Eire didn’t ask for the troops!

Roosevelt has already expressed his attitude toward the affair. When informed of the angry protest of President de Valera of Ireland, he wisecracked: “Live and Learn!” But, this remark holds true for those who have a chance now to observe “democracy” in practice, including the Irish people. And Churchill informed Parliament that the American troops would do Ireland “a lot of good.”

The Basic Issue

But some people will say: After all, the troops have landed in Northern Ireland, not in Ireland proper – and they came with the approval of the Ulster government, which is a part of Great Britain. Prime Minister Andrews – head of the Ulster government and leader of the majority Unionist Party of. Ulster – announces that he stands by the Constitution and that he welcomes the troops, who come in the cause of the United Nations.

This immediately raises the main, the real point at issue: The question of the division of Ireland which took place in 1920. By decision of the British Parliament in that year (and without consultation of the Irish people) Ireland was divided into two parts: The Irish Free State (Eire) consisting of five sixths of Ireland and 70 per cent of the population, and Ulster, 30 per cent of the population and one sixth of the country.

This division was engineered deliberately by the British to keep the people of Ireland divided. It followed no geographical, linguistic or economic lines. It was an artificial division from start to finish and a method of keeping a pistol pointed at the head of a united Irish nation.

The 1918 election showed 80 per cent of the people for a United Irish Republic; this was reaffirmed in the 1921 election and would undoubtedly be doubly reaffirmed if an election was held today. In Ulster itself (consisting of six counties) a majority of the people want unification with the Irish Free State. Ulster is run in a dictatorial manner by the Unionist Party with the help of British soldiers and bayonets. By every democratic, historic and economic right Ulster belongs with Eire and would be part of a United Irish Republic if it were not for British imperialism and militarism.

Andrews’ Excuse

When Prime Minister Andrews speaks of the Constitution he does not speak of any democratic law voted upon by the Irish people, but rather of a foreign Constitution forced down their throats by the British Parliament. His approval of the American troops is similar to Quisling’s approval of Nazi action in Norway. Both violate elementary democratic rights.

What are the troops doing there? What will they be used for?

They are there to put pressure on the de Valera government in Ireland.

The only effect these troops can have is to hasten the process by which Eire is being dragged into the war, against its will. Eire is caught in a trap in this World War between

two imperialists war camps. Like every small and comparatively weak country it is squeezed and pulled apart by the rivals who threaten at any moment to make it a bloody battlefield. Democratic rights, national sovereignty, free consultation, unity of peoples – all this goes by the board when the great imperialist powers are seeking to strike destructive blows at one another.

If it should ever become necessary for him, Roosevelt is capable of ordering – in conjunction with his ally, Churchill – an invasion of the Irish Free State. This is as possible as it is for Hitler to make a surprise attack upon Ireland and thus try to sneak into England via the back door.

Although it must be pointed out that the de Valera government has not established a reputation for democratic practices (for example, right now it is attempting to put through a bill in the Irish Dail which would give it military and martial law powers), nevertheless American workers and supporters of genuine democratic rights cannot but back up its protest. If the famous Irish Republican Army (IRA) ever makes the criminal mistake of allowing itself to be utilized by the German imperialists, then it is betraying Ireland’s interests as much as those who say: let the Americans and British in. The real interest of the Irish workers and the Irish people lie with neither war camp, but in the unification of all of Ireland under workers’ rule and unity with the people of all oppressed or threatened lands everywhere.

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