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Viewing cable 04DUBLIN1739, SHANNON: GOI UNDER PRESSURE BUT NO CHANGE IN POLICY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
04DUBLIN1739 2004-12-02 12:12 2011-01-13 18:06 SECRET Embassy Dublin
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T DUBLIN 001739   

SIPDIS   

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2014  
TAGS: MOPS PINR PREL
SUBJECT: SHANNON: GOI UNDER PRESSURE BUT NO CHANGE IN  POLICY   

Classified By: DCM JONATHAN BENTON FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D   

1. (S) DCM met with XXXXXXXXXXXX issues surrounding U.S. use of  Shannon airport. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that while there always has  been an element of Irish society that objects to the U.S.  military’s use of Shannon, the government feels increasingly  under pressure. On a weekly basis, members of parliament  question the ministers. While most of the criticism and  pressure come from the opposition, the president of the  Senate, from the PM’s own party, also has entered the fray  periodically. Parliamentarians draw on allegations from  journalists, activists’ web sites and tail spotters to  suggest the USG has used Shannon for nefarious purposes. Particularly difficult have been questions in the last two  weeks about a Gulfstream jet that allegedly has been used to  transport prisoners and allegedly had its tail number  changed. XXXXXXXXXXXX cited this allegation as both politically  and legally difficult for the GOI. The political problem is  that the government’s defense of Shannon rests heavily on  friendship with the U.S. and the Irish government saying it  relies on the “good faith” of the USG. He said the  allegations that the tail number has been changed raise  suspicions and caused confusion within the GOI, along with  the hope that there is a “benign” explanation about why the  tail number was changed. He cautioned that if it were ever  to be discovered that the U.S. was not good on its word or  had transported prisoners through Shannon in the context of  the war on terrorism, there would be enormous political  pressure on the government. As for the legal issue, he said  that were a plane to include Shannon in an itinerary that  also included transporting prisoners, GOI lawyers might be  forced to conclude that the GOI itself was in violation of  torture conventions. His colleague cited breaking press  reports of ICRC comments about Guantanamo as adding fuel to  the fire.   

2. (S) The DCM told XXXXXXXXXXXX that the USG would be in no  position to respond to the detailed questions asked about  particular planes, such as the Gulfstream jet, but stood by  its commitment to abide by Irish law, consult with the Irish  and avoid actions that would bring embarrassment to the Irish  government. XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed that there is no/no change  pending to Irish policy allowing U.S. use of Shannon, but  reiterated that some ministers feel they are going out on a  limb defending U.S. use of Shannon and that the GOI is  counting on the fact that the word of the USG is good and  that the U.S. has not and will not transfer prisoners through  Shannon or engage in any other activity that would place the  government in legal or political difficulty. He said that  the government consistently says the same thing and that this  must not be shown later “to have holes in it.” He also said  it is critical that no “blue water” be found between  statements that Irish and U.S. officials make. He said  activists dissect statements and take any divergence as a  sign that something is amiss. He said the recent assurances  from the USG that prisoners had not been transferred through  Shannon was helpful, as is, in general terms, the UNSCR  resolution asking members to support Iraq.  KENNY