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Cablegate: Irish Prime Minister to Address Congress On April

VZCZCXRO3354
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHDL #0091 0511541
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 201541Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8909
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES

C O N F I D E N T I A L DUBLIN 000091

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (PARA MARKING)

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV EUN EI
SUBJECT: IRISH PRIME MINISTER TO ADDRESS CONGRESS ON APRIL
30; TREATY OPPONENTS CONCERNED


Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Robert J. Faucher for reasons
1.4 (B) and (D).

1. (C) Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Bertie Ahern has
announced that he has accepted an invitation from Speaker
Nancy Pelosi to address a joint session of Congress on April
30, 2008. At the same time, Declan Ganley, the President of
the Libertas Institute, which is leading the fight in Ireland
against the Treaty, urged the Ambassador to press Congress
not to set the date for the Congressional address by Ahern
prior to the date for the Irish referendum on the Lisbon
Treaty. The Ambassador assured Ganley the U.S. would take no
side in the Treaty debate. End summary.

AHERN BEFORE CONGRESS
---------------------
2. (U) Stating that he was deeply honored, Irish Prime
Minister (the Taoiseach) Bertie Ahern announced late on
February 19 that he has accepted an historic invitation from
Speaker Nancy Pelosi to address a joint session of Congress
on April 30, 2008. It is expected that his 30-minute speech
will highlight the strong historical relationship between the
U.S. and Ireland, express gratitude to Members of Congress
who have supported the Northern Ireland peace process over
the years, and include reference to Ireland's strong economic
performances and global issues of mutual concern, such as
Kosovo, Darfur, and climate change.

3. (C) Ahern, who addressed a joint session of the British
Parliament last year, will become only the fifth world leader
ever to have addressed joint sessions of both Congress and
the British Parliament(Haile Selassie, Charles de Gaulle,
Francois Mitterrand and Nelson Mandela). Previous Irish
leaders who have addressed Congress include John Burton,
Garret FitzGerald, Liam Cosgrave, Eamon de Valera and Sean T.
O'Kelly.

LISBON TREATY OPPONENTS DISMAYED
--------------------------------
4. (C) Declan Ganley, the President of the anti-Lisbon Treaty
'Libertas Institute', accompanied by his Executive Assistant
Stephen Nolan, met with the Ambassador February 19 to urge
him to press Congress not to set the date for the address by
Ahern to both houses of Congress prior to the date for the
Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Ganley expressed
great concern that Ahern, whose favorable ratings have been
falling since his June 2007 re-election, would use the
inevitable bounce in popularity from his appearance before
Congress to sway Irish voters to support the Treaty.

5. (C) Ganley warned that the U.S. must be careful not to
directly or indirectly influence the outcome of the Treaty
referendum in Ireland. Ganley believed that Ahern's address
to Congress will undoubtedly touch upon the importance of
Ireland's approving the Lisbon Treaty. Ganley went on to
assert that such a statement in Congress will be seen by
Irish voters as a U.S. endorsement of Ahern's vision and the
government's support of the Treaty. Ganley added that the
U.S. should be prepared for harsh criticism in leading
European newspapers.

6. (C) The Ambassador responded that, while the Embassy is
watching the Treaty referendum with interest, the U.S. will
take no side in the debate. He stressed that for most
Americans there is little interest in or awarneness about the
referendum. Ahern's Congressional address will be seen in
the U.S. primarily as an expression of the long-standing
excellent bilateral relations between the U.S. and Ireland.


7. (C) Comment: Ganley's Libertas Institution is clearly
concerned that casting Ahern in a statesmanlike role will
provide unwanted credibility to Ahern's support of the
Treaty. While we can expect a bounce for Ahern, who is
beleaguered by investigations and tribunals into his personal
affairs, Ganley is overstating the case that much of Ireland
will be swayed regarding the Treaty due to Ahern's
Congressional appearance. End Comment.
FOLEY

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