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Cablegate: Irsh Prime Minister Continues to Take Heat for Allegd

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RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHDL #0031/02 0181350
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181350Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8843
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 DUBLIN 000031

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EI
SUBJECT: IRSH PRIME MINISTER CONTINUES TO TAKE HEAT FOR ALLEGD
IRREGULR FINANCES, BUT ISN'T BACKING DOWN


9. (U) In a political broadside, Fine Gael leader nda Kenny
accused Ahern on January 12 of misleadng the Irish people over his
tax affairs. He caled on Ahern to resign over his inabilityto
produce a tax certificate. Ahern, before embarking on an official
visit to South Africa, insisted he is fully tax compliant and
accused Kenny of telling lies. The opposition parties responded,
accusing Ahern of avoiding the issue following his refusal to answer
questions on the matter during his South African visit.

10. (SBU) During the Mahon Tribunal's questioning, Ahern was
strongly backed by a number of his Government colleagues, including
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, Minister for Health Mary
Hanafin, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Micheal
Martin. Nonetheless, political observers note that some distancing
from him seems to be occurring within his own party.

Comment
-------

11. (SBU) Following last May's general election, the opposition
parties were understandably downbeat. Many, however, are beginning
to think that their defeat has a silver lining, considering the
storm clouds now gathering around the economy. Fianna Fail has
aggressively claimed credit for the "Celtic Tiger" economic success
story over the past ten years. If the economy falters, opposition
parties will have potent ammunition for the Irish local elections
and the European Parliament election, scheduled for June 2009.
Then, there's the matter of the EU Reform Treaty referendum to be
held later this year. A defeat for the Prime Minister's party in
this vote (not inconceivable according to many local pundits) -- on
top of the questions surrounding Ahern's finances and taxes -- could
mortally wound Ahern and hasten his departure from Ireland's
political stage. Nonetheless, for the time being, Ahern is showing
no signs of giving up or of shedding his reputation as the "Teflon
Taoiseach" who consistently manages to slide out of political
difficulties. He recently declared that he will lead Fianna Fail
into the 2009 elections and appears to be holding a comfortable
political edge over the opposition.

FOLEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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