Cablegate: Government of Ireland Counsels Patience in Dealing

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2018

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


1. (C) EUR/WE Office Director Pamela Spratlen reviewed the
Northern Ireland peace process with senior Irish government
officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs, the
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and the
Office of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister), October 7-8. Each
government official voiced the opinion that the current
stalemate in Northern Ireland over the devolution of policing
and justice is likely to be resolved eventually, though it
will take time. In the meantime, they counsel patience by
all parties and suggest that the U.S. continue to employ
measures that have worked well in the past: wise counsel
(e.g., through the Special Envoy), program support (e.g., the
May 2008 investment conference), and access to the U.S. and
its leaders (e.g., participation in St. Patrick's Day events
at the White House). End summary.

2. (C) Spratlen discussed the Northern Ireland peace process
with Rory Montgomery, Political Director, Department of
Foreign Affairs, Sean Aylward, Secretary General, Department
of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and Maire Flanagan,
Assistant Principal Officer, Northern Ireland Division,
Office of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister). The Irish
Government believes a fundamental change has occurred in
Northern Ireland and there will be no going back to the
violence of the Troubles, according to Montgomery. However,
he said, there continues to be an underlying inability of
political leaders in the North, as well as many citizens
there, to overcome the emotional baggage and lack of trust
wrought by 30 years of conflict, especially since Sinn Fein
and the DUP represent factions of Northern Ireland's society
that were formerly among the most partisan and violent.
While Sinn Fein seems to have brought the republican
community along with them into the peace process, Montgomery
sees the unionists as more fragmented and thinks that current
unionist leader Peter Robinson is finding it difficult to
firmly grasp his leadership mantle. Robinson is constantly
looking over his shoulder at his political competitors in
Montgomery's view.

3. (C) Montgomery was confident that the devolution of
policing and justice, the current crisis of the moment, would
be resolved eventually, though not until well into 2009. In
the meantime, he said, the Irish Government would continue to
impress upon Sinn Fein the need to be patient and not provoke
the unionist community. At the same time, Montgomery said,
the Irish would continue to insist that unionist leaders
educate their constituents and better prepare them for full
power sharing with Sinn Fein in the Northern Ireland
Assembly. In many respects, said Montgomery (who has
unionist relatives in the North), the fundamentals for peace
are firmly in place and unionist communities are changing
their views of political, economic, and cultural cooperation
with Sinn Fein faster than their politicians. He noted,
however, that people in the North are becoming increasingly
disenchanted with the Northern Ireland Assembly, which they
see as not delivering on its promises over the past 17
months. In the meantime, he said, dissident republican
activity is worrisome.

4. (C) Montgomery said that a U.S. withdrawal from the
process at this point would be premature. He stated that
there is still an important role for the U.S. as an honest
broker who is willing to talk with, and encourage, the
political leaders of the North.

5. (C) Describing the Northern Ireland administration as a
"daily miracle," Aylward noted how remarkable it was that the
two former deadly foes were able to come together to form a
government in May 2007, the current "stasis" in governance in
the North notwithstanding. He described DUP leader Peter
Robinson as lacking the clout of former leader Ian Paisley in
being able to bring disparate elements of the unionist
community together, characterizing Robinson as a man who is
trying to get up the nerve to jump in the face of small
groups of hardline unionist "bigots," who are "difficult to
cajole or persuade" and are just waiting for an excuse to try
to drag Robinson down. Aylward predicted that the issue of
devolution of policing and justice would be resolved in due
course, though it might take a long time. In the interim, he
said, patience would be required, adding that there was no
button the U.S. ) or the Irish - could press to speed up the

6. (C) Flanagan expressed appreciation for the U.S. role in
the Northern Ireland peace process and also counseled

DUBLIN 00000568 002.2 OF 002

patience in dealing with the current stalemate in relations
between Sinn Fein and the DUP. She noted that the DUP is not
yet prepared to discuss the devolution of policing and
justice, Sinn Fein's sine qua non, within the executive
committee, while Sinn Fein refuses to participate in an
executive committee meeting until the devolution of policing
and justice is on the agenda.

How the U.S. Can Contribute

7. (C) In addition to exercising patience, our contacts
urged that the U.S. continue to employ measures that have
worked well in the past: wise counsel (e.g., through the
Special Envoy), program support (e.g., the May 2008
investment conference), and access to the U.S. and its
leaders (e.g., participation in St. Patrick's Day events at
the White House and continued issuance of visa waivers to
Sinn Fein leaders who would otherwise be ineligible to travel
to the U.S.).

8. (U) This report has been cleared by EUR/WE Director
Pamela Spratlen.

© Scoop Media

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