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The Nazi side of the Irish Republican Movement

Mary McAleese

The recent inflammatory comments made by Presidential hate-monger Mary McAleese has brought to public attention the issue of Nazism and anti-Semitism. As the world stopped to remember the Nazi genocide 60 years on from the Allied liberation of Auschwitz, it is fitting if we remember the allegiances between the citizens and government of what what was the Irish Free State, including their most radical front - Sinn Fein/IRA; and anti-Semitism/National Socialism.

de Valera's beloved Fuhrer

The sectarian and inflammatory comments made by Mary McAleese were as follows: (stated with reference to Nazis)

"They gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred of Catholics, in the same way that people give to their children an outrageous and irrational hatred of those who are of different colour and all of those things,"

The implication of which is the Ulster Protestants are as abhorrent as Nazis, while Roman Catholics as victimised as Jewry, and thus Irish Republicanism's bloody struggle murdering thousands of innocent Protestants is perfectly justifiable. To oppose this would therefore be tantamount to supporting Nazism.

These comments were hardly surprising coming from someone whose republican terrorist sympathies have been no great secret. The reality of Irish treatment of Jews and their conduct during World War Two should cause Mrs McAleese to hang her head in shame rather than pontificate to others.

We only have to look back to the first Irish holocaust memorial day on 26th January 2003 when Justice Minister Michael McDowell openly apologized for Irish wartime policy that was inspired by "a culture of muted antisemitism in Ireland," which discouraged immigration by Europe's shattered 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."

Eamon de Valera

Sixty Years ago on the 2nd May 1945 just at the close of World War Two the political leader of the Irish Free State and embodiment of the Irish Republican movement failed even to be discreet in his support for Nazism. Eamon de Valera, the survivor of the 1916 Easter rising (a track record for helping German war efforts), saw fit to sign a petition of condolence at the German legation in Dublin to express his grief on the death of Hitler. Furthermore, he went to personally commiserate with the Nazi representative in Eire, Dr Eduard Hempel on the death of their beloved Fuhrer. Later on the Dublin mob vandalised the British High Commission and the US embassy on news of the Allied victory, both countries being outraged at Ireland's attitude and actions.

Eire's Nazi sympathiser and President McAleese

Please note this event took place a full three months after the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and the revelation of the full horror of the Nazi genocide, and was only two weeks after British troops had liberated Bergen-Belsen, accompanied as it happened by an Irish doctor. There could be no possibility that de Valera and the Dail were unaware of the Nazi treatment of Jews, and yet the leader of supposedly neutral Ireland still wished to pay his respects to one of the most evil men in the history of the world. It was a display of support that no other national leader on earth made. At the time it was defended as a diplomatic gesture but was one that not even General Franco was insensitive enough to make.

It is clear that de Valera was sympathetic to the Nazi slaughter of Jews, and still willing to be open about it when it was clear that there would be no comeback for Nazi Germany and no united Ireland on the back of an axis victory and the bayonets of the SS. It is interesting to note that de Valera's visit was publicly applauded in the Irish press by Irish republican supporting literary gem, George Bernard Shaw.

Eoin O'Duffy

Eoin O'Duffy rose to prominence as Chief of Staff of the IRA at the time of the Civil War and was commander of the Monaghan brigade and later IRA Chief of Staff. At this time, as pro-treaty he split with de Valera. As the first Chief Commissioner of the Garda Siochana (Irish police force), Eoin O'Duffy turned himself into Ireland's answer to Mussolini being leader of the 100000 strong fascist Blueshirts movement (Army Comrades Association) which he renamed the National Guard. This organisation echoed Hitler's SA movement and based its marches, flags and salutes (Hail, O'Duffy) on those in use in Nazi Germany.

O'Duffy and his Irish Fascists

In 1933 O'Duffy was the founder of the Fine Gael Party which developed from the Blueshirts, and was thus leader of the political opposition to de Valera's Fianna Fail party. A year later he was ousted from the leadership when he proposed an invasion of Northern Ireland. Fine Gael saw itself strongly in the mainstream of European fascism and this can clearly be seen in the words of John A. Costello who later became leader of Fine Gael and Prime Minister of the Irish Republic. Speaking in the Dail he said "The Blackshirts have been victorious in Italy and Hitler's Brownshirts have been victorious in Germany, as assuredly the Blueshirts will be victorious in Ireland". During the Spanish Civil War O'Duffy led the 700 strong pro-Franco Irish brigade, but the Spanish fascist was not impressed by his fascist colleague O'Duffy's drunken antics and disbanded them.

Saluting the Irish Fuhrer

During World War Two (Still known in the Republic of Ireland as the Emergency) O'Duffy took a great interest in Nazism with which his Peoples National Party was closely aligned. He even went to the extent of sending an offer to Hitler saying that he would raise a "Green Legion" of Irishmen to fight on the Russian front. As a Nazi collaborator he spent time in Germany discussing with the Nazis in true Irish Republican fashion precisely what he could do to assist in Hitler's campaign against Britain. The 'Green Duce' that had modelled himself on Mussolini and supported Hitler died peacefully in 1944 and was buried with a state funeral in Glasnevin cemetry in Dublin, alongide other heroes of Irish Republicanism such as Daniel O'Connell, Roger Casement and O'Duffy's former comrade Michael Collins.

The "Green Duce" - leader of Fine Gael Blueshirts

Irish Anti-Semitism

This of course was not the only manifestation of Irish sympathy for Nazism which led to them being rebuffed scornfully by the USA, that prevented their qualification for Marshal Aid, and delayed their entrance into the United Nations until 1957. During the War officials of the Irish Free State were outrageous in their racist anti-Semitism which was openly tolerated by the Roman Catholic hierarchy and common currency in Irish society. Indeed Hitler's racial criteria for keeping out the Jew were still being used in Eire 8 years after Hitler's death. A 1953 memo from the Dublin department of Justice argues that vetting refugees into the Republic should be on a similar basis to that 'adopted for the admission of non-Ayran refugees' in 1938 and 1939. The Department of Justice went on to depicte the eastern European Jews applying for asylum as a danger to the Irish State. "There is strong anti-Jewish feeling in this State which is particularly evident to the Alien Section of the Department of Justice." They went on to write 'Sympathy for the Jews has not been particularly excited at the recent news that some thousands are fleeing westwards because of the recent round-up of communist Jews who had been prominent in Government and in government service in eastern European countries.'

When in the Dail in 1943, Oliver J. Flanagan praised Hitler for ridding Germany of Jews claiming, "I doubt very much if they are human!", he was not challenged by any other member. Later in a speech to the Dail he said "There is one thing that Germany did and that was to rout the Jews out of their country. Until we rout the Jews out of this country it does not matter a hair's breadth what orders you make. Where the bees are there is honey, and where the Jews are there is money." Flanagan was soon to join Fine Gael and remained a T.D. for them until 1987 briefly becoming Minister for Defence in the late 1970's. In 2004 Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny T.D. eulogised the memory of the nazi monster on the resignation of his son from politics "Charlie Flanagan continued the long tradition of service given by his late father Oliver J. to the people of Laois/Offaly in exemplary fashion." An exemplary Jew hater indeed! J.J. Walsh T.D. who had been a minister in the Cosgrave government was another high ranking anti-Semite who described Irish Jews as a "gang of parasites".

Anti-Semitism and praise for fascism was also rife within the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The main body organising support for Franco was the Irish Christian Front (I.C.F.) a broad based pressure group which , in the early months of the Spanish civil war organised massive demonstrations and had, initially at least, more widespread support than the Blueshirts. The Front's founders were Patrick Belton, who was formerly a T.D. for both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as well as being an ex-Blueshirt, and Alexander McCabe, formerly elected for both Sinn Fein (pre-1922) and Cumann Na nGaedheal and later to be a member of Eoin O'Duffy's pro-nazi People's National Party. At one I.C.F. rally in Cork in September 1936 40,000 people assembled to hear Monsignor Patrick Sexton, Roman Catholic Dean of Cork, blame the Spanish civil war on "a gang of murderous Jews in Moscow". Beside him stood Alfred O'Rahilly, the future president of the University College of Cork, and Douglas Hyde, the future president of the Irish state who up until introduction of the Euro has his head on the Irish £50 note.

This track record of democratically elected and clerical Jew-baiting was certainly foundation for the fact that only 30 European Jews fleeing persecution were given asylum before the war, none during it, and only a handful afterwards, and that there was consistent government opposition to granting any asylum. Even a year after the close of war, with the memory of the concentration camps fresh in the Irish public's consciousness, the Department of Justice was still vehemently opposed to Jews entering Ireland. In August 1946, the Minister of Justice refused to admit 100 Jewish orphans found at the Bergen-Belsen death camp.

This race hatred should be no surprise given the recent history there had been, of pogroms against Jews in Ireland, such as in Limerick in 1904 when Roman Priest Father John Creagh incited the local population against "blood-sucking" Jewish money-lenders. His sermons brought about a two-year trade boycott of Jewish businesses that was accompanied by harassment and beatings and resulted in the almost total departure of the 150-strong Limerick Jewish community.

Eire's Axis Neutrality

During the course of World War Two the Irish Free State remained officially neutral. In 1938 a year before the outbreak of war de Valera took control of the three treaty ports of Queenstown, Berehaven and Lough Swilly making them unavailable for British and thus allied naval operations. These ports were of such significance to allied naval activities that the US ambassador to Eire, David Gray urged President Roosevelt to seize them.

Without the free access to ports and seaways around Northern Ireland operations would have been near impossible, as was later testified to by President Eisenhower who said, "without Northern Ireland I do not see how the American forces could have been concentrated to begin the invasion of Europe. If Ulster had not been a definite, co-operative part of the British Empire and had not been available for our use I do not see how the build up could have been carried out in England". In 1943 Churchill paid a similar tribute to Northern Irelands contribution in the face of the Irish Free State's hindrance and obstruction: "Only one channel of entry remained open. That channel remained open because loyal Ulster gave us the full use of the Northern Irish ports and waters and thus ensured the free working of the Clyde and the Mersey".

One and the same cause

The veneer of neutrality during the war thinly veiled popular sentiment which though divided was often openly pro-Nazi. Poet John Betjeman, while working for the British High Commission in Dublin during the war stated with regard to the Irish people that they are: " either anti-British, anti-German and pro-Irish (faintly a majority)…pro Irish and pro-German (about 48 per cent)…the Irish papers are all anti-British…and the best-selling writers are pro-German".

As far as assisting the Nazi war effort the Irish did play their part. Not being obliged to black out they assisted German bombers in the blitz on Belfast and Liverpool. British intelligence was also aware that Dingle bay and the inlets on the coast of county Kerry and Cork were open for use for the refuelling of German u-boats in preparation for attacks upon Allied convoys and shipping, which of course represented the life-line of Britain and the Allied cause. Until relatively recently there was still a German pub near Dingle called Krugers which was testimony to this activity.

Sinn Fein/IRA

With specific reference to Sinn Fein/IRA there is much to say about the open link with Nazi philosophy and Nazi Germany. At the beginning of the 20th century Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Féin, published anti-Semitic articles in the republican United Irishman newspaper. At the outset of the war in 1939 Sinn Fein/IRA refered to her "victorious European allies" - referring to Nazi Germany and the other axis powers. In February 1939 Nazi agent Oskar Pfaus travelled to Ireland to liaise with prominent IRA terrorist Jim O'Donovan the IRA Army council do discuss options for co-operation and agreed that the IRA would assist the Nazis through a program of sabotage and espionage.

At the declaration of war in 1939 Sinn Fein/IRA responded by attacking targets in England - also receiving financial support for their enterprise by support from Irish American Clan na Gael. It is interesting to note that on the day Britain and Germany went to war that the first soldier to be shot was by the IRA in Belfast. Nazi Agents Ernst Drohl and Herman Goertz arrived in Ireland in 1940 to assist and co-ordinate the Sinn Fein/IRA fifth column.

In April 1942 RUC Constables Thomas Forbes and Patrick Murphy (Roman Catholic father of 10) were murdered in two separate attacks by an IRA gang as a part of the IRA's pro-Nazi subterfuge. The gang of 5 were sentanced to death with only leader Tom Williams getting the noose. Joe Cahill, later to be prominent IRA Chief of Staff, and the other three escaped the rope following direct intervention from Hitler's Pope Pius XII. At his death in July 2004 Cahill was lauded as a hero by Roman Priest Des Wilson and former Irish Taioseach (Prime minister) Albert Reynolds.

Joe Cahill's coffin carried by Sinn Fein/IRA terror leaders

Sean Russell

IRA Chief of Staff Sean Russell offered his terrorist services to Hitler in keeping with the Nazi philosophies of his organisation. Sean Russell had been in contact with the Nazi regime from 1936 and travelled to Berlin in May 1940 to receive bomb making and sabotage training and was in talks with the German foreign ministry regarding further avenues of co-operation and mutual interest which would support the Nazi war effort against Britain. His aim would be to foment a rising in Northern Ireland using the Roman Catholic population.

Following the fall of France in 1940 Germany had planned "Operation Kathleen" in which Sinn Fein/IRA would act as go betweens and a fifth column to persuade the Irish Free State to invade Northern Ireland and facilitate the mass landing of German invasion troops at Larne and Londonderry. They would assist the Nazis in occupying Northern Ireland as a stepping stone into the rest of the UK as part of their planned invasion. Russell and prominent Sinn Fein/IRA activist and Nazi collaborator Frank Ryan were dispatched on a U-boat to Ireland by the Nazis in operation Taube which failed due to Russell's death (an inglorious life commemorated by a statue by the Irish National Graves Association in Fairview Park, Dublin in 1951).

Nazi U-Boat - IRA Chief Sean Russell's Funeral Parlour

Russell received a Nazi burial at sea complete with Swastika and full military honours. Recently his statue was decapitated by anti-fascists in protest at an open Nazi being publicly commemorated. Following this the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Paris called for the statue to be left unrestored as an "enduring symbol of Ireland’s shame". The Irish government over which Mary McAleese presides has committed itself to rebuilding this revolting statue to the glories of the third reich and to a monster who would be reviled for the fascist and traitor he was if he had lived in any other country.

Nazi collaborator Sean Russell's statue in Dublin damaged by anti-fascist activists, Dec 2004
An "enduring symbol of Ireland’s shame" (Simon Wiesenthal Centre)

The key-note speaker at the IRA's Sean Russell commemorative rally in 2003 was Mary Lou McDonald, the Sinn Fein/IRA Dublin candidate for the European elections. That she had delivered an eulogy to a pro-Nazi stooge should have caused to her to be eaten alive by her rival candidates: imagine the consequences of a British politician rededicating herself to the cause of Oswald Mosley. Instead, the matter was never raised during the campaign that followed, lest it seem unseemly. She was duly elected to the European parliament, the only Euro-MP who retrospectively favours collaboration with the Nazis.

Sinn Fein/IRA's Mary Lou McDonald openly spoke in favour of IRA Nazi Chief and Collaborator Sean Russell

The facts about Russell's tenure as Sinn Fein/IRA Chief of Staff as well as his death are crystal clear. As British cities were relentlessly bombed during the Luftwaffe Blitz, Russell dispatched bombers of his own to England. Explosions killed civilians in cities such as Coventry while industries and military installations in Northern Ireland were targeted, all at a time when the Free World was fighting a war of survival against Hitler's armies. Russell and the IRA's terrorism in support of the Nazi war efforted led to him being honoured in Berlin and his presence on the U-boat.

Frank Ryan

The German foreign ministry sent Ryan a second time (Taube II) in which he was to use his extensive political, media and trade union contacts in Ireland to stir up opposition to England. He was at the same time to approach the Irish government and suggest that the German invasion of Britain would be an opportune moment for the seizure of Northern Ireland. Ryan said he believed Irish prime minister, Eamon de Valera, would back the plan and handed German agents a list of 23 people whom he said would be reliable contacts in Ireland. They included IRA commanders and Maud Gonne, muse of the poet W. B. Yeats.

Later on with a German direct invasion of Britain no longer likely, Taube II needed to be revamped. German troops were to be on standby in Brest, France, ready to be smuggled into Ireland to stiffen Irish resistance. It was Ryan's task to ensure that the Germans would be welcomed as allies and liberators. Ryan died in February 1944 and was buried under an assumed name in Dresden.

Ryan and Russell were not alone in "Nazi/IRA". In his very candid memoir, the late Paddy Devlin admitted that during the war there was a great degree of sympathy for the Nazis inside the IRA in Belfast. Devlin recalled that while in Crumlin Road jail he and his comrades enthusiastically plotted the advance of the Germans into the Soviet Union on a map in their prison cell. Each time news came through the radio about Nazi victories he and the other IRA inmates would cheer to the rafters.

Contemporary Anti-Semitism

Anti-semitism in Ireland continues to this day with recent condemnation by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for not including a specific reference to antisemitism in a new UN resolution on religious intolerance it submitted in October 2003 to the UN General Assembly Third Committee. A further act of Irish Jew-hate in the withdrawal of the UN anti-semitism statement was interpreted by the Wiesenthal centre as an Irish attempt to "delegitimise the Jewish people". In a recent letter to Taioseach Bertie Ahern the Wiesenthal centre expressed the opinion that "Ireland is the only World War II neutral to have never confronted its dealings with Nazi Germany". Currently there is much concern regarding the state supported Hunt museum in Limerick which stocked its collection with items taken from Jews which were trafficked by the Nazis.

In another contemporary case, Francis Stuart (1902-99), an Irish writer and member of Aosdana (an affiliation of creative artists in Ireland), who wrote in one of his books: "The Jew is the worm that got into the rose and sickened it," received a Saoi (Gaelic for 'wise one') award in 1996 (the highest honour the Republic of Ireland can give an artist). He was also known for his antisemitic radio broadcasts made during World War II.

Gerald Goldberg, who was Lord Mayor of Cork in 1977, received death threats and as a result he considered leaving Ireland. A synagogue in Cork was fire-bombed at the time. Israel's relations with Ireland were strained for many years because of the issue of Irish peacekeepers being injured or killed while serving in Lebanon. Protests, appeals and antisemitic comments/abusive phone calls were often received during those years by Jewish community offices.


Overall the role of the Irish Republic and the IRA in relation to Nazism has been shameful and humiliating. Mary McAleese should be ashamed. If she wants to look for Nazis maybe she should look closer to home. This is an example of why as law abiding innocent victims of fascist terrorism we do not trust Sinn Fein/IRA nor the Irish government.


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