The Bush administration were concerned that Ireland was exhibiting 'a dollop of complacency' about the efforts to pursue alleged terrorists, the latest batch of documents from Wikileaks reveals.
According to secret files released by Julian Assange’s website, on 19 June 2008, US Ambassador to Ireland Thomas Foley briefed Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and other senior officials from his department on possible terrorist threats, screening a presentation entitled 'Stemming the Flow of Foreign Terrorists into Iraq.'
According to TheJournal.ie, the details of the ambassador's reactions to that meeting were published in yesterday's Wikileaks document dump.
One cable from Foley to the White House underlines the Ambassador's belief that then Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern was 'clearly committed to thwarting terrorist activities on Irish soil,' but added that it was difficult to 'aggressively pursue alleged terrorist links' because Irish law, courts and government bureaucracy could 'complicate cooperation.'
'There may also be a dollop of complacency in Irish efforts to pursue alleged terrorists – there have been no foreign terrorist acts against Ireland or launched from Ireland into Europe, as yet,' Foley concluded.
During the briefing, the Justice Minister reportedly told the ambassador that the Fianna Fail-led coalition government did not want Ireland 'to be a base for murder or for an attack on another country.'
There was particular concern about an attack on the United Kingdom because of the open border, Foley said. To combat this possibility Ahern stated that Irish intelligence authorities were liaising with British, French, and Israeli intelligence services to track the movement of foreign terrorists.
The cable, which was never meant to be published, was sent to the US Department of State on 25 June 2008 marked 'Secret' and 'Not for foreign dissemination.'
According to the Irish Times, other cables released this week show that in 1973 the United States was concerned that Ireland could become 'one of the more difficult' members of the European Community to deal with.
The documents reveal: 'In the years ahead we expect that Ireland will be one of the more difficult members of the European Community for us to deal with, specifically in the area of defense, because of Ireland's traditional neutrality; and in the reduction of agricultural trade barriers, because ireland is a major agricultural country.'
'In both these secret matters, we expect to see the Irish aligned with the French, perhaps even out in front of them, until the development of the community itself realigns its internal forces.'
On Northern Ireland, the documents commented on efforts to end the violence by the Irish and British governments through 'political compromise.'
'Odds probably favor painful and jerky winding down of conflict. But there is still a possibility of all-out civil war,' the document said.
'US security interests could then be affected, though not so directly as those of the British. Short of this civil-war scenario, the wide area of Dublin/London agreement eases our policy decisions, because we can thoroughly agree with both.
'One source of friction remains: emotional involvement of the Irish-American community in the US. For us, this merely creates some inconvenince, but the Irish are very concerned about American contributions of money and arms to the IRA.'
'For the sake of both the Irish and the British, as well as for our own interests in European stability, we must do what we can to discourage contributions to violence in Ireland.'
According to the Irish Times, WikiLeaks claim the latest cbales include 'significant revelations about US involvements with fascist dictatorships, particularly in Latin America, under Franco's Spain (including about the Spanish royal family) and in Greece under the regime of the Colonels.'
Raise a glass to Robert Emmet, the Irish rebel leader executed on this day in 1803