Cablegate: Irish Establish Cabinet Committee to Review


DE RUEHDL #0602/01 3081828
P 031828Z NOV 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L DUBLIN 000602


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2018

C. 07 DUBLIN 919
D. 07 DUBLIN 916
E. 07 DUBLIN 899
F. 07 DUBLIN 898

Classified By: DCM Robert Faucher; Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).


1. (C) The Irish government has established a Cabinet-level
committee to review Ireland's human rights policies ) and
has given the committee a mandate to approach the incoming
U.S. administration to review concerns about renditions, the
detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and intensive
interrogation techniques. The Committee will also consider
strengthening the powers of the police to inspect aircraft
transiting Ireland, possibly via ICAO. Clearly a sop to the
Green Party, which is in trouble over budget cuts and is
threatening to block Ireland's signing the new bilateral
pre-clearance agreement, the establishment of this committee
will increase noise levels for a short time, but things
should soon return to normal. End summary.

Cabinet-Level Committee Established

2. (U) On October 29, the Government of Ireland established
a Cabinet-level committee to review Ireland's human rights
policies - including a mandate to approach the transition
team of the incoming U.S. Administration to review Irish
concerns about renditions, the detention facility at
Guantanamo Bay, and intensive interrogation techniques which
are considered torture (such as waterboarding). The
Committee will also review appropriate authorities to ensure
that the national police force (Garda) and airport
authorities have sufficient powers to search and inspect all
aircraft transiting Ireland, perhaps through strengthening
the Air Navigation and Transport Acts. Finally the committee
will report on Irish Ministry of Justice actions to improve
Garda training in basic human rights.

3. (U) The committee will be composed of two Green Party
Ministers ) Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural
Resources Eamon Ryan and Minister for Environment, Heritage
and Local Government John Gormley - and three Fianna Fail
Ministers - Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin,
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern,
and Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey.

Sop to the Greens

4. (C) Reports indicated that, in part, this new initiative
is based on pressure from Green Party Ministers to make
progress on human rights commitments made in the pre-election
coalition manifesto, "Programme for Government," which
undertook to thwart renditions through effective enforcement
of the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against
Torture) Act, 2000 and the Geneva Conventions Acts,

5. (U) Amnesty International publicly welcomed the aircraft
search provision, declaring it a "massive victory" for human
rights in Ireland. However, the head of Amnesty
International Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, stated that he wants to
see the "action behind the words" from the government on the

6. (C) Since the issue of renditions broke in 2004, the
Irish have accepted assurances they received from President
Bush and Secretary Rice in that year that no renditions had
taken place through Ireland. Top Irish officials, including
the Prime Minister, have declared that they would take the
USG at its word and not pursue inspections of U.S. aircraft
transiting Shannon and Dublin Airports without sufficient
probable cause. As recently as December 2007, then Prime
Minister Bertie Ahern and then Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern
categorically rejected Opposition and Irish Human Rights
Commission calls for random inspections of U.S. aircraft
(Refs E and F). Current Prime Minister Brian Cowen, then
Minister of Finance, supported this position. (Note: From
2003 to the end of 2007, 1,059,383 U.S. troops transited
Shannon airport on 8,698 flights. End note.)

7. (C) Irish Foreign Affairs Political Director Rory
Montgomery told the Embassy November 3 that this action was
designed by the government to assuage the Green Party/junior
coalition partner ) and demonstrate that the Greens still
have influence at the Cabinet table ) after the Greens came
under fire from party members in the wake of the recent
austerity budget (Ref A), particularly for its support of
Fianna Fail in defending cuts in the education sector. At
the October 29 Cabinet meeting, the Government sought
approval to sign the U.S.-Ireland Preclearance Agreement (Ref
C). Green Party ministers refused, complaining that they
were getting beaten up over the budget cuts and had nothing
to show for their time in government. They linked approval
of the Preclearance Agreement to actions on renditions and
other human rights concerns about which their core supporters
are neuralgic, according to Montgomery.

8. (C) Montgomery continued that the Cabinet secured Green
Party approval for the Preclearance Agreement signing by
agreeing to set up the ministerial-level committee to look
into human rights concerns. In addition to the three
elements of the committee's mandate, the committee was also
tasked with approaching ICAO to examine whether the Chicago
Convention could be changed to better facilitate aircraft
inspections. However, Montgomery considered this a real

9. (C) Montgomery went on to say that he expects the
government to discuss the committee and its work in upcoming
parliamentary sessions. He stated that Foreign Minister
Martin would make it clear that there were no new allegations
leading to the establishment of the committee and that the
government stands by the USG assurances on renditions that it
has already received.

10. (C) The new committee seems intent on pressing its views
of renditions, Guantanamo, and torture with the new
administration, but it expects a welcoming reception
regardless of who wins the presidential election. The
establishment of the committee was clearly a sop to a
beleaguered Green Party and expectations are low that it will
actively engage U.S. interlocutors. We should expect a bit
of noise on this issue in the weeks ahead, but it should soon
die down.


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