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23-11-2020, 19:13   #1
Hyus
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Any Italian espionage in Ireland during the war?

We know the Germans had spies here during the Emergency, what about the Italians, is there any historical evidence that they engaged in espionage here? There was an Italian consulate and an Italian community in Ireland at the time, as well as Irish folks who had voiced support for Fascist Italy during the 1930s (such as Eoin O'Duffy and the National Corporate Party, which itself was inspired by Italian fascism).


Haven't found any mention of Italian espionage here though, when it comes to the Axis I've only seen stuff about the Germans.
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24-11-2020, 01:08   #2
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In fascist days, Italian foreign intelligence and espionage services were firmly under the control of the military, and a turf war between the military establishment and the Italian foreign office meant that they had little connection with, and made little use of, Italy's diplomatic network. They also focussed on obtaining information on military, rather than political, matters, and from a military point of view Ireland was insignficant. I'd be surprised if the Italian intelligence services paid much attention to Ireland before or during the war and, to the extent that they did, they probably didn't involve the Italian diplomatic mission in Ireland, but relied more on private and commercial visitors to Ireland.

Fascist Italy also had a domestic security service, controlled not by the army but by the police and the Fascist party, but it only operated in Italy itself and in territories under Italian occupation. Late in the war Mussolini - who felt he could no longer trust the military establishment - tried to expand it to operations in foreign countries, but not much was acheived in that regard before his fall, and it's very unlikely that Ireland would have been on any list of countries of interest.
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24-11-2020, 10:16   #3
Hyus
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In fascist days, Italian foreign intelligence and espionage services were firmly under the control of the military
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They also focussed on obtaining information on military, rather than political, matters, and from a military point of view Ireland was insignficant.

Wasn't the German Abwehr also part of the military though? And they sent spies over here. I guess though, from a military standpoint, Ireland had a bit more significance to the Germans than to the Italians...


But I do know the Italians had some submarines operating in the Western Approaches for a time around 1940-41 (based out of BETASOM in France), so we were in their area of military operations in the early-war period.

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they probably didn't involve the Italian diplomatic mission in Ireland, but relied more on private and commercial visitors to Ireland.
We certainly had a few of our own Axis sympathisers hanging around in those days who could have been recruited. I just don't know if the Italians did it.

Last edited by Hyus; 24-11-2020 at 10:24.
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24-11-2020, 21:55   #4
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Not sure about the Italians but the Russians had a spy, Borris O Kane, operating in Tipperary
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30-11-2020, 19:20   #5
tabbey
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The Italians also had a comprehensive intelligence network throughout urban Ireland.

Not sure that they were fascist though, they mostly supplied fish and chips.

PS. Dalkey had a restaurant called Benito's, but that was long after il duce's demise.

Last edited by tabbey; 30-11-2020 at 19:24.
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10-02-2021, 15:49   #6
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The Italians also had a comprehensive intelligence network throughout urban Ireland.

Not sure that they were fascist though, they mostly supplied fish and chips.

PS. Dalkey had a restaurant called Benito's, but that was long after il duce's demise.
Dublin also had the Swastika Dry Cleaners, still in existence in the 1960s. I wonder if they had fellows with cameras hiding under bedsheets in the back of their vans.
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10-02-2021, 15:50   #7
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Not sure about the Italians but the Russians had a spy, Borris O Kane, operating in Tipperary
Yes, and there was a fellow called Puccini wreaking havoc in Connemara.

Last edited by feargale; 10-02-2021 at 20:11.
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11-02-2021, 01:11   #8
Peregrinus
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Dublin also had the Swastika Dry Cleaners, still in existence in the 1960s. I wonder if they had fellows with cameras hiding under bedsheets in the back of their vans.
It was a laundry, not a dry cleaners. It was sold to Spring Grove in the 1960s, but the use of the name and logo continued well into the 1980s and even after it closed the brick chimney of the laundry building, adorned with a swastika, was a prominent Ballsbridge landmark.

(They had, of course, no connection with the Nazi Party. They had been using the logo first, and they were buggered if they were going to let some jumped-up fascist gurrier take it from them.)
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11-02-2021, 22:37   #9
Mick Tator
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What a daft question. What interest did Italy have in Ireland during WW2.
FWIW Benito's restaurant was called Il Duce's and had his helmeted head on posters etc when it first opened. The name was soon changed due to adverse public reaction. It also created a diplomatic incident, with the Italian Embassy filing complaints.
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