Cablegate: Scene-Setter for the April 19-20 Visit of Eur Pdas


DE RUEHDL #0286/01 1031637
R 131637Z APR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Embassy Dublin eagerly anticipates your visit and
the opportunity to join your discussions with ranking Irish
Government officials and others on the full range of
bilateral and U.S.-EU issues. Your visit comes at an
historic moment in U.S.-Irish relations, with the scheduled
restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive on
May 8. Support for the Northern peace process has
perennially been Embassy Dublin's' highest priority, and we
have worked closely with the Irish Government and our
colleagues in Belfast, London, and Washington on the steps
leading from last October's St. Andrews negotiations to the
March 26 power-sharing agreement between Sinn Fein and the
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). After May 8, the Irish
Government aims to support the North's transition from the
peace process to governance through all-island economic
linkages and revival of the North-South bodies established
under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Opportunities for
cross-border cooperation dominated Prime Minister (Taoiseach,
"TEE-shuck") Bertie Ahern's April 4 meeting with DUP leader
Ian Paisley in Dublin and will also feature in your
discussion with Michael Collins, Ahern's chief foreign policy
advisor and the future Irish Ambassador to the United States.

The Domestic Political Backdrop

2. (SBU) Your visit will also take place against the
political backdrop of Ireland's national elections, for which
a date has not been set, but which are expected to be held in
May/June. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who is seeking a third
consecutive five-year term, and his party, Fianna Fail
("FEE-na FOYLE"), are campaigning on the strength of
Ireland's "Celtic Tiger" economic success. Opposition
parties have narrowed the polling gap in recent weeks by
focusing their pre-election conventions on health care
problems, inflation, and deficient public infrastructure. In
terms of immediate U.S. interests in the elections, it is
unlikely that the current government or an opposition
coalition would revoke the policy allowing U.S. military
transits at Shannon Airport (see para 4B). Irish
politicians, however, are increasingly vocal about the
situation of 20,000-50,000 undocumented Irish residents in
the United States, and they continue to confer with Congress
and Irish-American groups on legislative options to
regularize the status of these "illegals."

Ireland and Climate Change

3. (SBU) Your speech on climate change at the Institute of
European Affairs will be timely, coming on the heels of two
key Irish Government environmental documents released this
spring: the White Paper on Energy and the National Climate
Change Strategy. The White Paper, published in March, set
forth the goals of creating an all-island electricity market
and ensuring that one-third of electricity consumed in the
economy would come from renewable energy sources by 2020.
The National Climate Strategy, unveiled on April 3, outlined
the Government's target of reducing Ireland's greenhouse gas
emissions by 17 million tons between 2008 and 2012, with 20
percent of these reductions to derive from carbon credits
trading. While Ireland, like the United States, has
de-linked emissions growth from economic growth, emissions
have increased to 25 percent above 1990 levels, as compared
to the country's Kyoto commitment to cut emissions to 13
percent above the 1990 threshold by 2012. In this context,
the Government has welcomed Embassy proposals for bilateral
cooperation on initiatives focusing on ocean/wave power,
clean coal technology, and the capture of methane from
agricultural waste for energy uses. In fact, the Embassy
sought, and obtained, reference in the National Climate
Strategy to opportunities for Irish-U.S. environmental

Discussion Topics with the DFA

4. (SBU) After your IEA speech, you will meet with
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Political Director Rory
Montgomery, who has suggested the topics below for
discussion. DFA Deputy Political Director and International
Security Policy Chief, Colm O Floinn (O'Flynn), will attend
the Shannon portion of the meeting.

A) The EU. Ireland is an upstanding member of the EU, but,
as a smaller country, seldom takes the lead on EU policies,
preferring to achieve, and stand behind, consensus among the
27 Member States. The Government supports EU enlargement and
welcomed the addition of Romania and Bulgaria earlier this

year. Unlike nationals of the ten accession states in 2004,
however, Romanians and Bulgarians face limits on entry into
Ireland. Government interlocutors have suggested the
possibility of a referendum before year's end on the EU
Constitutional Treaty, particularly if France does likewise.
Ireland helped to negotiate the Constitution during its EU
presidency in 2004 and feels proprietary about the document.
During and since its EU presidency, Ireland has worked to
strengthen U.S.-EU ties in overcoming earlier Iraq-related
tensions, and the Irish take pride in having former Taoiseach
John Bruton as the EU Ambassador to the United States.

B) Shannon/Bilateral Military Cooperation. Shannon Airport
is a key transit point for U.S. troops and materiel bound for
Iraq and other military theaters. In 2006, roughly 280,000
troops passed through Irish airports, and about 5,000 milair
and charter flights overflew Ireland. The Government
supports these revenue-generating transits, even though
segments of the Irish public oppose USG policies in Iraq and
the Middle East and suspect that the airport hosts
extraordinary rendition flights. Public and parliamentary
opposition came to the fore with the publication of the
European Parliament Special Committee report in early 2007
alleging that 147 rendition-related flights had transited
Irish airports, an allegation that the Government dismisses.
Privately, the DFA has asked for maximum USG vigilance
against incidents that could stoke public sensitivities, such
as the publicized transit of a convicted, handcuffed Marine
prisoner through Shannon in 2006.

C) Kosovo/Western Balkans. Ireland strongly supports UN
Special Envoy Ahtisaari's proposals for Kosovo's supervised
independence. The Irish Government also favors the
integration of the western Balkans into the EU and
trans-Atlantic community, pending necessary political reforms
in the region and, particularly in Serbia's case, greater
cooperation with ICTY. In August, Ireland will become the
"Framework Nation" in a KFOR division in Kosovo that will
include 270 Irish troops, and the Government therefore feels
vested in diplomatic approaches to the region's problems.

D) Russia. Irish-Russian relations are a question mark, and
your discussions with Political Director Montgomery will be
an opportunity for the Embassy to garner information on this
point. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern apparently has a personal
interest in Russia, and he reportedly volunteered to make the
presentation on EU-Russian relations when President Bush met
with EU leaders in Brussels in February 2005. Ireland has no
dependence on Russian oil or gas and relies instead on North
Sea and UK sources for 90 percent of its energy needs.

5. (SBU) Following the discussion with Montgomery, you will
participate in a DFA-hosted roundtable on a range of other
issues, for which the DFA has selected interlocutors both
in-house and from other Government agencies. A participant
from the Department of the Environment is expected to address
Government views on climate change. The other agenda items
are as follows:

A) Counterterrorism. Ireland, which lost six citizens in the
9/11 attacks and many more in spillover terrorist actions
during the Northern Ireland Troubles, is supportive of U.S.
counterterrorism efforts. In 2005, the Irish Parliament (the
Dail, "DOYLE") enacted the Criminal Justice (Terrorism
Offenses) Bill, which enabled Ireland to sign onto all 12 UN
Conventions on Terrorism and to strengthen powers for asset
seizures and EU-approved financial sanctions on suspected
terrorists and financiers. The Irish Data Protection
Commissioner, however, criticized USG actions on SWIFT, and
other Government agencies have not provided interlocutors to
engage seriously with the Embassy on the issue (a possible
indication that these agencies disagree with, but do not wish
to refute officially, the Commissioner's views.) Moreover,
the Government has called for the closure of Guantanamo as
inconsistent with basic human rights.

B) UN/Peacekeeping. The Irish Government sees the UN as a
cornerstone of its foreign policy, and, in 2005, Foreign
Minister Dermot Ahern (no relation to the Taoiseach) served
as then-UNSYG Koffi Annan's Special Envoy to Europe for UN
Reform. Ireland is also a longstanding contributor to UN
peacekeeping missions, with roughly 800 troops now stationed
with nine UN missions, including a 300-soldier contingent
that will finish a UNIMIL tour in Liberia this summer. This
contingent will become available for possible future UN
peacekeeping missions in Africa or for service in a
Nordic-led division of the EU Battle Group rapid reaction
force, which Ireland has committed to join in 2008. As a
NATO Partnership for Peace member, Ireland has seven military
personnel in Afghanistan, performing administrative roles

and, soon, ordnance training.

C) The Middle East/Iraq. Ireland, which has longstanding
sympathies for the Palestinian cause, has welcomed the
formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG)
and supports EU overtures to the NUG to accept the Quartet
Principles. Regarding Lebanon, Ireland joined the original
UNIFIL force in the 1970s and contributed 150 troops to the
bolstered UNIFIL mission last summer in the aftermath of the
Israeli-Hizbollah conflict. In Iraq, the Government actively
supports the EU police training mission and, since January,
has pledged over euro five million in humanitarian
assistance. The Government also backs U.S. efforts to end
sectarian violence, but tends to avoid public discussion of
Iraqi issues, given public sensitivities and media criticism
tied to U.S. military transits at Shannon. DFA counterparts
have expressed concern about the harmful impact of U.S.
frustrations in Iraq on U.S. global leadership.

D) Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). For 2007, the
Government budgeted euro 800 million for ODA, and the Irish
public strongly supports the goal of increasing ODA to 0.7
percent of GNP by 2012. Irish Aid, the foreign assistance
arm of the DFA, manages most of its programs in sub-Saharan
Africa, a focus region for Irish humanitarian efforts since
the missionary era. Foreign Minister Ahern has indicated to
the Embassy that he would like to pursue a higher-profile,
perhaps international diplomatic role, and he may have his
sights on African conflict areas, particularly Darfur, which
he visited last July.

The Ambassador's Dinner

6. (SBU) For the dinner that the Ambassador plans to hold in
your honor, we have invited guests who could offer insights
on all things European and on bilateral ties. We hope to see
EU Member State ambassadors, Irish Members of the European
Parliament, academics/think tankers, Government officials,
clerics, environmental experts, and media representatives.
We have also reached out to Irish officials in the EU
Commission, but work schedules may make their attendance

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