Ireland, which was officially neutral in World War II, in fact gave covert support to Britain, according to previously secret documents now released for publication.

One document says Irish government authorities gave Britain information about German air and submarine movements, let British warplanes fly over parts of Ireland and let the British legation in Dublin operate secret radio transmitters.The previously secret Department of External Affairs memorandum dated May 1941 was among more than 9,000 documents released Wednesday under Ireland's new National Archives Act.

The released documents cover the period from the creation in 1922 of the Irish Free State following a treaty with Britain, the former ruling power, to 1960.

Under the act, previously secret government documents from now on will be released each year in accordance with a 30-year rule. This means that the next set of documents to be released - those dated 1961 - will be made public this year.

The Times of London said the extent of cooperation revealed in the released Irish documents between the governments in Dublin and London during the war has caused surprise on both sides.