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Ireland suspected Shannon had carried prisoners: the WikiLeak in full

The full text of the leaked document suggesting Ireland believed Shannon Airport had been used to transfer prisoners of war.

The following is the full text of a cable written by Thomas C Foley, the US ambassador to Ireland at the time, on a meeting he had held with Foreign Affairs minister Dermot Ahern.

In that meeting, Ahern appeared “convinced” that the United States had operated at least three flights through Shannon which had carried its prisoners of war.

VZCZCXRO6799
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHDL #0916/01 3541546
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 201546Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8798
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DUBLIN 000916
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECIN PBTS EAIR ECON PKFK EUN
TT, EI
SUBJECT: TOUR D’HORIZON WITH IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER
REF: A. DUBLIN 900
¶B. DUBLIN 899
¶C. DUBLIN 888 NOTAL
¶D. DUBLIN 851
¶E. DUBLIN 849
Classified By: Ambassador Thomas C. Foley; Reasons 1.4
(B) and (D).
Summary
——-
¶1. (C) Ambassador Foley met with Irish Foreign Minister
Dermot Ahern on December 19 to discuss a wide range of
issues. In recent days, Ahern has tamped down the public
reaction to a report of the Irish Human Rights Commission
(IHRC) on extraordinary renditions. Ahern indicated that the
3500-strong EU peacekeeping force for Eastern Chad, led by
Irish Lt. General Pat Nash and including 450 Irish troops,
will be deployed in January or February 2008. He stated that
Ireland, the Framework Nation in Kosovo, intends to remain in
Kosovo on the basis of the pre-December 10 mandate and plans
to contribute to the planned EU ESDP police mission there.
Ahern revealed that the Department of Foreign Affairs
Conflict Resolution Unit will tackle East Timor as its first
venture into international conflict resolution intervention.
Regarding the EU Reform Treaty, Ahern predicted that there
will be a tough battle to get out sufficient “yes” votes. He
predicted that the recently proposed DHS full pre-clearance
agreement with Ireland will be substantially altered by the
Irish Attorney General. The Ambassador thanked Ahern for
accepting ten Cuban refugees currently encamped at
Guantanamo. Ahern advised the Ambassador that the Department
should liaise with Ambassador Michael Collins in planning the
2008 St. Patrick’s Day bilateral. He once again raised the
Irish Government’s concern about the status of Irish illegal
aliens in the U.S. Ahern’s warm, open welcome of the
Ambassador is a measure of the importance the Irish attach to
the bilateral relationship with the U.S. End summary.
Extraordinary Renditions
————————
¶2. (C) Ambassador Foley thanked Ahern for his staunch
rejection of the Irish Human Rights Commission’s (IHRC)
demand that the Irish Government inspect aircraft landing in
Ireland that are alleged to have been involved in so-called
extraordinary rendition flights (Ref B). Ahern declared that
the IHRC report contained no new information, but warned that
opposition parties Fine Gael and Labour could be expected to
continue to raise the issue from time to time in efforts to
politically embarrass the Fianna Fail-run Government. Ahern
said that several alleged rendition flights had been
inspected during the past year and fully cleared; the last
flight, he wryly noted, was carrying six touring golfers.
Ahern said that a public response by the Embassy would not be
useful, but suggested that the Ambassador personally engage
Fine Gael leadership to explain the U.S. position.
¶3. (C) Ahern noted that he had “put his neck on the chopping
block” and would pay a severe political price if it ever
turned out that rendition flights had entered Ireland or if
one was discovered in the future. He stated that he “could
use a little more information” about the flights, musing that
it might not be a bad idea to allow the random inspection of
a few planes to proceed, which would provide cover if a
rendition flight ever surfaced. He seemed quite convinced
that at least three flights involving renditions had refueled
at Shannon Airport before or after conducting renditions
elsewhere.
¶4. (C) Comment: While Ahern’s public stance on
extraordinary renditions is rock-solid, his musings during
the meeting seemed less assured. This was the only issue
during the meeting that agitated him; he spent considerable
time dwelling on it. Ahern seemed to be fishing for renewed
assurances from the Ambassador that no rendition flights have
transited Ireland, or would transit in the future.
Highlighting the recent attention drawn to renditions by the
IHRC report, later the same day the Parliamentary Foreign
Affairs Committee held a hearing on the matter. The hearing,
attended by POLOFFs, generally confirmed the Government’s
view that there is no evidence that rendition flights have
transited Ireland. The hearing, which was barely reported by
the press, failed to achieve any traction for critics of
American policy. End comment.
Chad/Darfur
———–
¶5. (C) In November, Ahern visited Chad in preparation for
DUBLIN 00000916 002 OF 003
the deployment of a 3500-strong EU peacekeeping force, led by
Irish Lt. General Pat Nash and including 450 Irish troops.
Ahern, who also visited Darfur in 2006, indicated that the
situation in Eastern Chad is not as dire as Darfur, but that
conditions are deteriorating. He said that the Government of
Chad, unlike the Government of Sudan, is reasonably positive
about the intervention of the EU force. He stated that force
equipment requirements, which have somewhat delayed the
mission, have been sorted out and that force deployment would
begin in January or February 2008.
¶6. (C) In an aside on Sudan, Ahern expressed despondency
about progress in Darfur, saying that he didn’t believe the
leaders of Sudan, including President al-Bashir, were serious
about resolving the Darfur situation. He labeled al-Bashir
and Sudanese Foreign Minister Ismail as untrustworthy, saying
they had both lied to him. He described Khartoum as booming
and al-Bashir as scoffing at Western sanctions. “The Chinese
are everywhere in Khartoum,” he said.
Kosovo
——
¶7. (C) Ahern said that Ireland intends to remain in Kosovo
under the pre-December 10 mandate. (Note: Ireland is the
Framework Nation in Kosovo, responsible for commanding,
controlling, and directing operations of the multilateral
peacekeeping force (KFOR) operating there. End note.)
Ireland also intends to contribute to the EU ESDP police
force recently authorized for Kosovo, according to Ahern.
While Ireland is worried about the repercussions of a
unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo, Ahern
indicated that he sees independence there as inevitable. If
the EU decides to recognize an independent Kosovo, he said,
Ireland will go along (Ref D).
¶8. (C) In a separate discussion on December 20 with Jim
Kelly, Director, Europe Division, Department of Foreign
Affairs, Kelly told POLOFF that assessments of the legality
of continuing the pre-December 10 mandate had been positive.
He indicated that the door was now open for UN Secretary
General Ban to signal a green light for the ESDP policing
mission. Kelly commented on meetings that Minister of
Foreign Affairs Ahern and he had held about November 9 in
Kosovo and Serbia with Kosovar Prime Minister-elect Hashim
Thaci and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. Kelly
characterized both leaders as wary of precipitous action. In
spite of Thaci’s public rhetoric, Kelly noted that Thaci was
privately talking about “managed” independence rather than a
“unilateral declaration” of independence. Similarly, Kelly
said that Kostunica indicated he was not willing to use
military force to retain Kosovo, though Kostunica said he
would utilize any measure short of military action, including
an economic blockade.
Conflict Resolution Unit (CRU)
——————————
¶9. (C) Ahern revealed that the Government has decided to
focus the efforts of the newly formed CRU, which is housed in
the Department of Foreign Affairs, on East Timor. He
indicated that the Government of East Timor is favorably
disposed to the intervention, in part because of good
relations built up with Timorese Government officials during
Irish troop engagements in the past. Ahern reiterated that
he would welcome collaborative Irish/U.S. conflict resolution
initiatives there. (Comment: Ahern will lead a team to Dili
in February or March 2008. Embassy Dublin will liaise with
Embassy Dili to arrange meetings for Ahern with Ambassador
Klemm and other U.S. officials. End comment.)
Reform Treaty Referendum
————————
¶10. (C) Emphasizing that the Government of Ireland is
calling the EU treaty the “Reform” Treaty rather than the
“Lisbon” Treaty, Ahern indicated that the constitutionally
mandated referendum would likely be held during the first
half of 2008 and would be linked with a referendum on a
constitutional amendment on children’s rights (Ref E). He
predicted a hard battle, which, he said, would be joined by
treaty opponents from across Europe. He said that in spite
of the fact that the Irish people are generally supportive of
the EU and the Reform Treaty, getting out the “yes” vote
might be a problem.
Pre-Clearance Agreement
———————–
¶11. (C) Ahern indicated that he had reviewed the draft DHS
agreement to establish a full U.S. pre-clearance facility in
DUBLIN 00000916 003 OF 003
Ireland (Ref C). He was generally supportive of the proposed
agreement, calling it “significant and practical.”
Nonetheless, he was skeptical of certain provisions, e.g.,
that Ireland would be responsible for any radioactive waste
discovered, and predicted that the draft agreement would be
much altered after the Irish Attorney General reviewed the
document.
Cuban Refugees
————–
¶12. (C) Ambassador Foley thanked Ahern for the Irish
Government’s willingness to accept ten Cuban refugees
currently encamped at Guantanamo. (Note: A team from the
Irish Ministry of Justice visited Guantanamo the week of
December 10 and identified the refugees who will be settled
in Ireland. End note.) Ahern’s view of the post-Castro
future of Cuba was uncertain; he indicated that Ireland would
be guided by the EU on future relations with the Cuban
Government.
St. Patrick’s Day Bilateral
—————————
¶13. (U) Ahern advised the Ambassador that he and the
Department should liaise with Ambassador Michael Collins in
Washington in planning the 2008 St. Patrick’s Day bilateral.
While Ahern agreed that, in light of the progress in Northern
Ireland, the format of the bilateral could be somewhat
revised (such as the stations of the cross), he noted that
the shamrock ceremony, which has a long tradition, should not
be altered.
Undocumented Irish
——————
¶14. (C) Ahern once again raised the Irish Government’s
concern about the status of Irish illegal aliens in the U.S.
(Ref A). He said that political opponents are accusing the
Government of ignoring the problem, when, in fact, there is
nothing the Government can do influence U.S. immigration
policy. He asked the Ambassador to meet separately with
opposition leaders to explain the U.S. Government’s position.
Comment
——-
¶15. (C) Ahern genuinely welcomed the Ambassador. He
appeared engaged, warm, and open, acting as if he had all the
time in the world. Such demeanor is a measure of the
importance the Irish attach to the bilateral relationship
with the U.S.
FOLEY
VZCZCXRO6799RR RUEHAG RUEHROVDE RUEHDL #0916/01 3541546ZNY CCCCC ZZHR 201546Z DEC 07FM AMEMBASSY DUBLINTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8798INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATESRUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DUBLIN 000916
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2017 TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECIN PBTS EAIR ECON PKFK EUNTT, EI SUBJECT: TOUR D’HORIZON WITH IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER
REF: A. DUBLIN 900
¶B. DUBLIN 899 ¶C. DUBLIN 888 NOTAL ¶D. DUBLIN 851 ¶E. DUBLIN 849
Classified By: Ambassador Thomas C. Foley; Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
Summary ——-
¶1. (C) Ambassador Foley met with Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern on December 19 to discuss a wide range of issues. In recent days, Ahern has tamped down the public reaction to a report of the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) on extraordinary renditions. Ahern indicated that the 3500-strong EU peacekeeping force for Eastern Chad, led by Irish Lt. General Pat Nash and including 450 Irish troops, will be deployed in January or February 2008. He stated that Ireland, the Framework Nation in Kosovo, intends to remain in Kosovo on the basis of the pre-December 10 mandate and plans to contribute to the planned EU ESDP police mission there. Ahern revealed that the Department of Foreign Affairs Conflict Resolution Unit will tackle East Timor as its first venture into international conflict resolution intervention. Regarding the EU Reform Treaty, Ahern predicted that there will be a tough battle to get out sufficient “yes” votes. He predicted that the recently proposed DHS full pre-clearance agreement with Ireland will be substantially altered by the Irish Attorney General. The Ambassador thanked Ahern for accepting ten Cuban refugees currently encamped at Guantanamo. Ahern advised the Ambassador that the Department should liaise with Ambassador Michael Collins in planning the 2008 St. Patrick’s Day bilateral. He once again raised the Irish Government’s concern about the status of Irish illegal aliens in the U.S. Ahern’s warm, open welcome of the Ambassador is a measure of the importance the Irish attach to the bilateral relationship with the U.S. End summary.
Extraordinary Renditions ————————
¶2. (C) Ambassador Foley thanked Ahern for his staunch rejection of the Irish Human Rights Commission’s (IHRC) demand that the Irish Government inspect aircraft landing in Ireland that are alleged to have been involved in so-called extraordinary rendition flights (Ref B). Ahern declared that the IHRC report contained no new information, but warned that opposition parties Fine Gael and Labour could be expected to continue to raise the issue from time to time in efforts to politically embarrass the Fianna Fail-run Government. Ahern said that several alleged rendition flights had been inspected during the past year and fully cleared; the last flight, he wryly noted, was carrying six touring golfers. Ahern said that a public response by the Embassy would not be useful, but suggested that the Ambassador personally engage Fine Gael leadership to explain the U.S. position.
¶3. (C) Ahern noted that he had “put his neck on the chopping block” and would pay a severe political price if it ever turned out that rendition flights had entered Ireland or if one was discovered in the future. He stated that he “could use a little more information” about the flights, musing that it might not be a bad idea to allow the random inspection of a few planes to proceed, which would provide cover if a rendition flight ever surfaced. He seemed quite convinced that at least three flights involving renditions had refueled at Shannon Airport before or after conducting renditions elsewhere.
¶4. (C) Comment: While Ahern’s public stance on extraordinary renditions is rock-solid, his musings during the meeting seemed less assured. This was the only issue during the meeting that agitated him; he spent considerable time dwelling on it. Ahern seemed to be fishing for renewed assurances from the Ambassador that no rendition flights have transited Ireland, or would transit in the future. Highlighting the recent attention drawn to renditions by the IHRC report, later the same day the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on the matter. The hearing, attended by POLOFFs, generally confirmed the Government’s view that there is no evidence that rendition flights have transited Ireland. The hearing, which was barely reported by the press, failed to achieve any traction for critics of American policy. End comment.
Chad/Darfur ———–
¶5. (C) In November, Ahern visited Chad in preparation for
DUBLIN 00000916 002 OF 003

the deployment of a 3500-strong EU peacekeeping force, led by Irish Lt. General Pat Nash and including 450 Irish troops. Ahern, who also visited Darfur in 2006, indicated that the situation in Eastern Chad is not as dire as Darfur, but that conditions are deteriorating. He said that the Government of Chad, unlike the Government of Sudan, is reasonably positive about the intervention of the EU force. He stated that force equipment requirements, which have somewhat delayed the mission, have been sorted out and that force deployment would begin in January or February 2008.
¶6. (C) In an aside on Sudan, Ahern expressed despondency about progress in Darfur, saying that he didn’t believe the leaders of Sudan, including President al-Bashir, were serious about resolving the Darfur situation. He labeled al-Bashir and Sudanese Foreign Minister Ismail as untrustworthy, saying they had both lied to him. He described Khartoum as booming and al-Bashir as scoffing at Western sanctions. “The Chinese are everywhere in Khartoum,” he said.
Kosovo ——
¶7. (C) Ahern said that Ireland intends to remain in Kosovo under the pre-December 10 mandate. (Note: Ireland is the Framework Nation in Kosovo, responsible for commanding, controlling, and directing operations of the multilateral peacekeeping force (KFOR) operating there. End note.) Ireland also intends to contribute to the EU ESDP police force recently authorized for Kosovo, according to Ahern. While Ireland is worried about the repercussions of a unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo, Ahern indicated that he sees independence there as inevitable. If the EU decides to recognize an independent Kosovo, he said, Ireland will go along (Ref D).
¶8. (C) In a separate discussion on December 20 with Jim Kelly, Director, Europe Division, Department of Foreign Affairs, Kelly told POLOFF that assessments of the legality of continuing the pre-December 10 mandate had been positive. He indicated that the door was now open for UN Secretary General Ban to signal a green light for the ESDP policing mission. Kelly commented on meetings that Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahern and he had held about November 9 in Kosovo and Serbia with Kosovar Prime Minister-elect Hashim Thaci and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. Kelly characterized both leaders as wary of precipitous action. In spite of Thaci’s public rhetoric, Kelly noted that Thaci was privately talking about “managed” independence rather than a ”unilateral declaration” of independence. Similarly, Kelly said that Kostunica indicated he was not willing to use military force to retain Kosovo, though Kostunica said he would utilize any measure short of military action, including an economic blockade.
Conflict Resolution Unit (CRU) ——————————
¶9. (C) Ahern revealed that the Government has decided to focus the efforts of the newly formed CRU, which is housed in the Department of Foreign Affairs, on East Timor. He indicated that the Government of East Timor is favorably disposed to the intervention, in part because of good relations built up with Timorese Government officials during Irish troop engagements in the past. Ahern reiterated that he would welcome collaborative Irish/U.S. conflict resolution initiatives there. (Comment: Ahern will lead a team to Dili in February or March 2008. Embassy Dublin will liaise with Embassy Dili to arrange meetings for Ahern with Ambassador Klemm and other U.S. officials. End comment.)
Reform Treaty Referendum ————————
¶10. (C) Emphasizing that the Government of Ireland is calling the EU treaty the “Reform” Treaty rather than the ”Lisbon” Treaty, Ahern indicated that the constitutionally mandated referendum would likely be held during the first half of 2008 and would be linked with a referendum on a constitutional amendment on children’s rights (Ref E). He predicted a hard battle, which, he said, would be joined by treaty opponents from across Europe. He said that in spite of the fact that the Irish people are generally supportive of the EU and the Reform Treaty, getting out the “yes” vote might be a problem.
Pre-Clearance Agreement ———————–
¶11. (C) Ahern indicated that he had reviewed the draft DHS agreement to establish a full U.S. pre-clearance facility in
DUBLIN 00000916 003 OF 003

Ireland (Ref C). He was generally supportive of the proposed agreement, calling it “significant and practical.” Nonetheless, he was skeptical of certain provisions, e.g., that Ireland would be responsible for any radioactive waste discovered, and predicted that the draft agreement would be much altered after the Irish Attorney General reviewed the document.
Cuban Refugees ————–
¶12. (C) Ambassador Foley thanked Ahern for the Irish Government’s willingness to accept ten Cuban refugees currently encamped at Guantanamo. (Note: A team from the Irish Ministry of Justice visited Guantanamo the week of December 10 and identified the refugees who will be settled in Ireland. End note.) Ahern’s view of the post-Castro future of Cuba was uncertain; he indicated that Ireland would be guided by the EU on future relations with the Cuban Government.
St. Patrick’s Day Bilateral —————————
¶13. (U) Ahern advised the Ambassador that he and the Department should liaise with Ambassador Michael Collins in Washington in planning the 2008 St. Patrick’s Day bilateral. While Ahern agreed that, in light of the progress in Northern Ireland, the format of the bilateral could be somewhat revised (such as the stations of the cross), he noted that the shamrock ceremony, which has a long tradition, should not be altered.
Undocumented Irish ——————
¶14. (C) Ahern once again raised the Irish Government’s concern about the status of Irish illegal aliens in the U.S. (Ref A). He said that political opponents are accusing the Government of ignoring the problem, when, in fact, there is nothing the Government can do influence U.S. immigration policy. He asked the Ambassador to meet separately with opposition leaders to explain the U.S. Government’s position.
Comment ——-
¶15. (C) Ahern genuinely welcomed the Ambassador. He appeared engaged, warm, and open, acting as if he had all the time in the world. Such demeanor is a measure of the importance the Irish attach to the bilateral relationship with the U.S. FOLEY

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Gavan Reilly

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