Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act, 1937

The pandemic is not the first time Irish government has prevented people from travelling to Spain. All the current talk of special credentials required by Irish people to leave for Spain reminded me of the Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act, 1937.  This law enacted by the Irish Free State (Ireland was not yet a republic) was intended to stop Irish people from travelling to fight in the Civil War in Spain. Section 5 of the act made it unlawful to join either side ("belligerent") in the war or to "induce or attempt to induce persons" to do so.  Section 6 stated that "It shall not be lawful for any person who is a citizen of Saorstát Eireann to depart or attempt to depart from Saorstát Eireann for the purpose of proceeding to Spain ... unless such person holds a passport ... bearing an endorsement ... declaring such passport to be valid for Spain and Spanish territory."

A person who "sells, issues, procures, or attempts to procure a ticket" was also guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty was the huge sum of £500 and two year in prison.

The law was controversial and the debates in the Dáil were quite heated. There was a lot of discussion about defending Catholicism from communism.


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