Letter: Ireland's neutrality

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Ireland's neutrality

Sir: Richard Doherty's " `Neutral' Irish won 8 Second World War VCs" (Historical Notes, 8 December 1999) brings to mind Churchill's speech of 8 May 1945, when he summarised the war years.

He expressed his bitterness over neutral Ireland, particularly that withholding Atlantic-orientated ports from British use in the U-boat battles that by 1942/43 were becoming crucial - but then his tone changed as he said, "...I cannot but recall Esmonde VC..." etc.

There was a moment that R Doherty does not allude to: the severe mid- April 1941 raids on Belfast, which so taxed the Northern fire brigades that they perforce asked help from Dublin. Dublin sent up their resources to Belfast, breaking neutrality - the only instant in the War, I believe.

A J STACPOOLE OSB

Ampleforth Abbey

York

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