Cablegate: Foreign Minister Ahern Discusses Northern Ireland,

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 001050


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2015

Classified By: Ambassador James C. Kenny; Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).

1. (C) Summary. In an August 25 meeting with SFRC Chairman
Lugar and the Ambassador, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern
said that continued U.S. support for the Northern Ireland
peace process, including through the International Fund for
Ireland (IFI), would help to foster reconciliation between
unionists and republicans. When Ahern cited legal
difficulties with a prospective Colombian request for
extradition of the Colombia Three, Senator Lugar cautioned
against the possibility that Ireland would be seen as a haven
for terrorists. Ahern cited GOI interest in U.S. immigration
legislation affecting several thousand undocumented Irish in
the United States, and he agreed with Senator Lugar's
observation that Ireland's economic success was a draw for
Irish returnees and European immigrants. Ahern and Senator
Lugar also concurred on the importance of seizing the moment
for wide-ranging UN reform. End summary.

The Northern Ireland Peace Process and IFI

2. (C) U.S. Congressional support for the Northern Ireland
peace process, including through the International Fund for
Ireland (IFI), had been pivotal in securing the IRA's
historic pledge in July to lay down arms, Irish Foreign
Minister Dermot Ahern told visiting Senator (and SFRC
Chairman) Richard Lugar and the Ambassador on August 25.
Ahern said that continued U.S. contributions to the IFI were
needed "now more than ever" to help the Northern Ireland
communities build upon the peace, notwithstanding arguments
that the IFI was antiquated. He explained that although
major violence had ceased, unionists and republicans had
become "balkanized" in their respective residential areas,
exacerbating the challenge of reconciliation. In addition,
there were rifts among unionists, due to perceptions that
political leaders were not adequately representing their
constituents. Whereas unionists had initially repudiated the
IFI, they were now enthusiastic to participate in IFI
programs -- a trend that offered the possibility of bringing
communities together on the ground. Senator Lugar recounted
past Congressional support for the IFI and said that
developments in Northern Ireland would be considered in
determining future levels of assistance.

The Colombia Three and Extradition

3. (C) The recent return of the Colombia Three to Ireland
was a brazen, choreographed republican act that had caught
the Irish Government by surprise, said Ahern. He emphasized
that the Government and Sinn Fein had not discussed the
Colombian Three case prior to the IRA's July pledge to
abandon paramilitarism. Although the Government was
unsympathetic to the three individuals, it recognized the
legal difficulties inherent in any prospective Colombian
request for extradition, particularly in the absence of an
extradition treaty and against the background of
controversial extradition cases involving the UK during the
Northern Ireland Troubles. Ahern contrasted the situation
with new EU mechanisms to facilitate Irish extraditions to
Member States, and he also questioned whether the USG would
extradite citizens to Colombia, given its legal/penal system.
When the Ambassador pointed out that the Irish Government
had not acted on numerous U.S. requests to extradite criminal
fugitives from Ireland back to the United States, Ahern said
he was unfamiliar with the requests and asked for follow-up
details. Senator Lugar said that he could understand the
legal complexities involved in extradition cases, but noted
that Ireland would not want to be seen as a haven for

Immigration: the United States and Ireland

4. (C) Ahern cited strong Irish Government interest in
Congressional debate on the McCain/Kennedy immigration bill,
as there were 20-30,000 undocumented Irish in the United
States. He said that the Irish public held sympathy for
these "illegals," since most had left home in the 1970s and
'80s during the height of the Troubles at a time of record
unemployment. Senator Lugar replied that the McCain/Kennedy
bill was a top legislative priority for the Congress, noting
that the bill was framed primarily to address the presence of
several million undocumented Mexicans in the United States,
including 325,000 in Indiana. He remarked that, with
employment opportunities in the Celtic Tiger economy, Ireland
was able to welcome Irish returnees and European immigrants,
a situation that contrasted with isolationist/nativist
pressures in the United States. Ahern observed that 100,000
immigrants from the new EU Member States had arrived since
May 2004 and that over 20,000 Irish had returned from the
United States between 1998 and 2002. He added that Ireland's
challenge in accommodating this inflow was to sustain
economic growth and to secure the future for an aging

UN Reform

5. (C) Ahern noted in closing that he had consulted widely
in Europe as UNSYG Annan's regional envoy on UN reform and
had emphasized in his travels that opportunities for overall
UN reform should not be lost in the debate on UN Security
Council reform. Senator Lugar agreed on the importance of
seizing the moment to improve the UN system. He also quipped
that Ahern was the first European leader he had met in recent
months who had not sought to discuss a particular formula for
restructuring the UNSC.

6. (U) Senator Lugar did not have an opportunity to clear
this cable.

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