This day 80 years ago – 10 February 1941 – James Dillon, deputy leader of Fine Gael, voiced his support for the Allies:
”It may be policy of this Government to stand neutral, but I am not neutral… I pray Germany and its rulers may be smashed by the Anglo-American alliance.” pic.twitter.com/gIgOAMU38L
— This Day in Irish History (@ThisDayIrish) February 10, 2021
Dillon temporarily resigned from Fine Gael in 1942 over its stance on Irish neutrality during World War II. While Fine Gael supported the government’s decision to stay out of the war, Dillon urged the government to side with the Allies.
A passionate anti-Nazi, Dillon described the Nazi creed as “the devil himself with twentieth-century efficiency”. His zeal against Hitler drew him the ire of the German minister to Ireland Eduard Hempel, who denounced him as a “Jew” and “German-hater”.
Even Eamonn De Valera, then Taoiseach, was not spared the fierceness of Dillon’s rhetoric; when the Taoiseach ridiculed Dillon’s stark support for the Allies, noting this meant he had to adopt a Pro-British stance, Dillon defiantly retorted
“My ancestors fought for Ireland down the centuries on the continent of Europe while yours were banging banjos and bartering budgies in the backstreets of Barcelona.”