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Rudy Giuliani's 'ineptitude' and 'lack of knowledge' criticised by Irish diplomat following 1989 lunch

Giuliani had just launched his 1989 mayoral campaign when a Government official lunched with the Republican politician.

shutterstock_640461055 Rudolph Giuliani Source: Shutterstock/mark reinstein

RUDY GIULIANI’S KNOWLEDGE of Irish-American concerns was “skimpy” while his New York Mayoral campaign showed “a certain ineptitude”, according to an internal Irish government report from 1989. 

Giuliani – New York Mayor from 1994 to 2001 and now US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer – had just launched his 1989 Mayoral campaign when an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs lunched with the Republican politician in May that year. 

Described as the “leading Republican contender” for New York Mayor, Giuliani was 44 at the time having spent years as State Attorney where he “concentrated on widely publicised cases against the Mafia”. 

Despite this, the DFA official said in their report, Giuliani would likely attain the support of New York’s Italian community because “most New York Italian Catholics are Republican”. 

In the run-up to the New York Mayoral election in November that year, Giuliani framed himself as a “liberal” hoping to attract Democrats dissatisfied with then-New York Mayor Ed Koch. 

“His main platform is that there is need for change in New York to deal with drugs, AIDS and what is widely perceived as a breakdown of society,” the Department official reported, going on to outline Giuliani’s main political rivals in his race for office. 

“He is very strong on law and order and supports the reintroduction of the death penalty in New York,” they note. 

‘Very Intelligent, Very Good Listener’ 

It is common practice for Foreign Affairs officials to keep tabs on major developments abroad, and State Papers released under the 30-year rule reveal each year highlight the trends of the year in question. There has always been a particular interest in the United States, considering a long tradition of Irish-American relations. 

On this, however, Giuliani’s “knowledge of the detail is skimpy”, the official said. 

At the time, IRA member Joe Doherty was imprisoned in Manhattan having escaped to the United States during his trial for shooting dead a British army officer in Northern Ireland in 1980. 

Giuliani – who did “not know very much about Ireland”, the official noted – favoured the return of Doherty to the UK but wanted Doherty to have access to bail.

Giuliani said he did not support political asylum in murder cases, the official noted, yet argued that Doherty’s “crime would not have been committed but for the presence of British soldiers in Northern Ireland”. 

Doherty was eventually deported to Northern Ireland in 1992 but was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. 

Despite his “skimpy knowledge” of Irish-American concerns, the Department official reported, Giuliani “is a very receptive person and would, in my view, be attentive to Irish Government concerns were he to be elected Mayor.”

There was, however, a “long way to go” in Giuliani’s Mayoral campaign,” they noted. 

In the end, Giuliani narrowly lost the 1989 Mayoral election to David Dinkins but went on to win the election in 1993, serving as Mayor of New York until December 2001. 

In April 2018, Giuliani was appointed Trump’s personal lawyer and has since appeared frequently defending the US President.

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Most recently, Giuliani has come under heavy scrutiny relating to his role in Ukraine. 

Having had lunch with Giuliani, the Department official wrote that “Giuliani has shown a certain ineptitude since declaring his candidacy. He has suffered in the media because the law firm for which he now works represents the Panamanian Government…His closest advisers…have little or know experience of politics,” the official said. 

“On the other hand, Giuliani is very intelligent and a very good listener and he is learning as the campaign goes.”

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