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Britain, Ireland and the Second World War$
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Ian S. Wood

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748623273

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748623273.001.0001

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Security, Censorship and Propaganda

Security, Censorship and Propaganda

(p.67) 4 Security, Censorship and Propaganda
Britain, Ireland and the Second World War

Ian S. Wood

Edinburgh University Press

Between 1939 and 1945, intelligence-gathering and counter-espionage work were, along with a high degree of censorship, seen by the Irish state as necessary weapons in the maintenance of a non-belligerent status that carried real risks, especially in the earlier years of the war. In the case of intelligence gathering, de Valera's government performed with a level of competence now well documented, and which was more than satisfactory to Britain and its allies. With counter-espionage there was frustration for those such as Betjeman and Sir John Maffey, whose role was to represent, as well as they could, Britain's interests in Éire. They and their colleagues simply learnt to live with the censorship, and to work around it as and when they could. The censorship was often driven by ignorance and prejudice, and its concern was to keep the Irish people as unaware as possible of events in Europe and beyond. It remains inescapable that the enervating effects of the censorship left the Irish public ill prepared to confront the truth of Nazi genocide once the censorship was lifted on 11 May 1945.

Keywords:   Second World War, intelligence gathering, counter-espionage, Irish state, non-belligerent status

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