Northern Ireland news

Winston Churchill wanted united Ireland, new documents claim

Winston Churchill is alleged to have revealed his personal desire for Irish reunification in a trip to Washington DC
Paul Ainsworth

WINSTON Churchill had a “longing” to see a united Ireland, according to newly-released documents.

Claims that the wartime British Prime Minister wished to see the end of partition are revealed in the latest volume of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, published by the Royal Irish Academy.

The papers from 1951-1957 include reports and letters involving what was then the Irish Department of External Affairs – now the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In the new volume, a letter from a department official dated January 1952 to the UK’s ambassador to Ireland at the time, Fred Borland, identifies a “British spokesman” in Washington DC who spoke openly of a desire to see a united Ireland as Winston Churchill.

Churchill, who after his time as prime minister between 1940 and 1945 again served as UK leader from 1951 to 1955, expressed a “longing” for reunification, the records claim, but is said to have added: “Provided that we could woo the six counties successfully.”

Subsequent letters by Borland claim reporting of Churchill’s thoughts on Irish reunification in Washington were censored as it was feared they would “have caused more indignation and alarm in Belfast”.

Borland wrote: “As the people in Stormont must know well, nothing is better calculated to sway public sympathy in Britain to favour us on the partition issue than a growing appreciation of our tolerance and fair-mindedness in public and private conduct.”

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