European minority nationalists and Irish political asylum, 1937–2008
From 1937 to 1950 the Irish government granted political asylum to a number of European minority nationalists, many of whom were wanted for crimes of collaboration with Axis forces during the Second World War. Although inspired by the Irish struggle for independence, they came discreetly and their hosts sought largely to conceal their presence. Bretons, Basques, Scots, Flemings – even a high-ranking Croat later dubbed the ‘Yugoslav Himmler’ – all found temporary or permanent refuge in Ireland.
Fugitive Ireland reveals for the first time why Dublin sheltered foreign militants who had so disastrously regarded Nazi invasion as their nationalist ‘opportunity.’ Employing unpublished sources and personal accounts, Daniel Leach explores the role of political asylum in asserting Irish sovereignty, Catholic anti-communism and revolutionary heritage, and exposes a previously hidden and controversial chapter of Irish and European history – one which, through the continued actions of post-war and even modern exiles, continues to affect Ireland’s reputation to this day.
Daniel Leach held the inaugural Gerry Higgins Postgraduate Scholarship in Irish Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia.