The Irish government was developing a contingency plan in preparation for WWIII, foreign policy documents finally released last year revealed.
In the event that Russia invaded Western Europe, the Irish State planned to issue letters advising the immediate evacuation of all its citizens living in mainland Europe, fearing that even if Ireland maintained neutrality its people would not be seen as such.
"In the event of an invasion of Western Europe by Russia, Irish citizens are not likely to be treated as neutrals, even should the State be neutral. The moment tension develops they should, therefore, be advised to take their departure at once," read the minutes of a meeting of the Department of Foreign Affairs held on July 22, 1950.
One proposed measure involved using Aer Lingus planes to “evacuate the Heads of Mission, staff and family,” asking “Should a preliminary approach be made to Aer Lingus now?”
Had WWIII begun, Irish Heads of Mission would have been instructed to seal the Irish embassies and offices, and destroy stocks of passports and confidential documents.
The meeting, titled “Measures to be taken for the protection of Irish citizens in Europe in the event of war,” is one of many amazing finds in Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Vol 9, spanning the years 1948-51.
Among them are documents on Korea, the overseas adoption of Irish infants, Ireland’s departure from the Commonwealth, Winston Churchill’s desire for a United Ireland, and a rather interesting letter on UFOs from the Irish Embassy in Washington DC.
The letter, also from 1950, was attached to a copy of the book “The Flying Saucers Are Real,” by Donald Keyhoe. It was sent to the Irish Department of External Affairs in Dublin.
“The Department is, no doubt, aware of the many published reports in regard to flying objects which have been named as flying saucers,” the letter begins, noting that the book was enjoying “immense sales” in the US.
He recounts the story of an American Airlines plane that was reportedly “circled three times by one of these manifestations,” and makes explains that “the recent announcement that State Department proposes to form a Scientific Branch for the exchange of information between all countries which has no bearing on security is supposed to have something to do with this ‘flying saucer’ scare. The Secretary of State announced that he was going to recruit top-flight scientists to head up this Scientific Branch of the State Department.”
He also notes the rumor that the book’s publication was “inspired by the US authorities so that the people here might become accustomed to the idea that there is a possibility of the inhabitants of another planet visiting this one” but asks that the Department “understand that I do not in any sense commit myself to believe in any of the views expressed in regard to these ‘flying saucers.’”
The ninth volume of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy was launched in 2014 by Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, in conjunction with the National Archives of Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy. Excerpts were shared via the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Twitter feed.
* Originally published in 2014.