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Spying on IrelandBritish Intelligence and Irish Neutrality during the Second World War$
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Eunan O'Halpin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253296

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253296.001.0001

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Phoney War, Phoney Spies: September 1939–April 1940

Phoney War, Phoney Spies: September 1939–April 1940

(p.46) 2 Phoney War, Phoney Spies: September 1939–April 1940
Spying on Ireland

Eunan O'Halpin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a discussion of British policy and Irish neutrality during the phoney war. It then discusses the Navy's Irish concerns, MI5's Irish problems, naval intelligence and Ireland, the SIS and Ireland, and security of war information in the British Isles. It is argued that the quality of British intelligence concerning Ireland during the phoney war was low, with different agencies having different agendas: NID began the war with a fixation about German submarines on the west coast, and sought hard information which preferably would confirm that such reports were true; MI5 were concerned mainly to build up a liaison with G2; and SIS were reluctant to spy in Ireland, partly for fear that this would jeopardize security cooperation. Compounding these problems was the general incoherence of British security policy when war broke out. Neither were the mechanisms, the trained personnel, nor the rules in place to create an effective security screen around the UK.

Keywords:   Britain, Navy, M15, Churchill, Germans, naval intelligence, Northern Ireland, Irish security

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