There is a pervasive myth that Irish neutrality 1939-1945 was scrupulously even-handed and principled.
That was not true. One historian (Joe Lee) described De Valera's policy as "anglophile", adding that Dev did not have to endure from the Allies the same bullying endured by the Spanish, Swedes and Swiss from Hitler.
Ronan Fanning in Independent Ireland takes from British Cabinet records a list of the way Ireland helped the Allied cause - a list that surprised even its most anti-Irish members.
Below, They = The Irish (my own comments are in )
- They agreed to the use of Lough Foyle for naval and air purposes.
- They agreed to an air corridor for aircraft taking off from Lough Erne.
- They agreed to the transmission of information regarding submarine activity.
- They broadcast reports by their Air Observer Corps of aircraft sighted over Southern Ireland.
- They arranged for the extinction of trade and business lighting in coastal towns [so as to confuse German aircraft].
- They continued to supply meteorological reports [one of which was vital for D-Day]
- They agreed to the use of two radio-direction-finding stations at Malin Head.
- They arranged for staff talks on the question of co-operation in the event of a possible German invasion of Southern Ireland.
- They interned all German fighting personnel reaching Southern Ireland. On the other hand, Allied personnel are returned.
- They have agreed to return German prisoners-of-war who escape from Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland.
- They continue to exchange security information.
- They agreed to establish a radar station in Southern Ireland.
De Valera, by means of the strictest censorship ever in the history of the state, kept these facts from the Irish public, who were led to believe that our neutrality was a reality.
Eunan O'Hailpin in Defending Ireland puts it differently. He says the British and Americans "extracted a considerable price for tolerating Irish neutrality, which was large paid in secret". But it was a price Dev was more than willing to pay so as to display a faux "even handedness" to his pro-German Republican adversaries. He feared these internal enemies more than he feared the Allies.
So, was 1939-1945 Irish neutrality a "sham"? It was certainly more pragmatic than principled, but where you set the bar between sham and sincerity probably depends initially on your own bias and political affiliation.