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Cablegate: Irish Officials On Northern Ireland Talks

VZCZCXRO6805
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHDL #0524/01 3371820
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 031820Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0351
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBL/AMCONSUL BELFAST IMMEDIATE 1124

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 000524

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL UK EI
SUBJECT: IRISH OFFICIALS ON NORTHERN IRELAND TALKS

REF: LAKHDHIR E-MAIL 12/01/09

DUBLIN 00000524 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: DCM Robert J. Faucher. Reasons 1.4(b/d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: In separate meetings on December 2 and 3,
Kevin Conmy of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
and Paul McGarry of the Irish Prime Minister,s Office
briefed us on ongoing talks between GOI and HMG about
Northern Ireland. The aim of these meetings is to follow up
on the meeting between UK Prime Minister Brown and Irish
Prime Minister Cowen on November 30 (ref). What needs to be
done, according to our interlocutors, is to decouple the
devolution of policing and justice from any other issues
(especially parades). They said devolution must be agreed to
before Christmas, or the whole process could break down.
They are aware of the possibility of failure, but remain
cautiously optimistic. Conmy is Chief of the Reconciliation
and Coordination Section of the Anglo-Irish Division of the
DFA, and McGarry is in the Northern Ireland and International
Division of the PM,s office. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------
IRISH FRUSTRATED WITH UNIONISTS
-------------------------------

2. (C) Both of our interlocutors reported frustration on the
Irish side with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter
Robinson. (of the Democratic Unionist Party ) DUP). McGarry
said that Robinson had made "abolition of the parades
commission a pre-condition" for setting a date for devolution
of policing and justice. Having any precondition for
devolution was unacceptable to Sinn Fein and rightly so, as
Sinn Fein had stuck by its side of the bargain on devolution.

---------------------------------
DE-LINKING DEVOLUTION AND PARADES
---------------------------------

3. (C) Conmy and McGarry described the purpose of ongoing
meetings between the Irish DFA and PM,s office and the
British Northern Ireland Office (NIO) as devising an approach
that would get the DUP and Sinn Fein talking about all of the
St. Andrew,s Agreement issues (parades, Irish language,
North-South all-island cooperation) separately from
devolution. Dealing with all of the St. Andrew,s issues as
a package, they hoped, would bring Sinn Fein to the table on
parades and enable Robinson to walk back from making parades
a pre-condition for devolution. What was needed, they said,
was some sort of political declaration or commitment from
Robinson before Christmas on a start date for devolution. If
Robinson did not commit to a start date before Christmas,
they said, Sinn Fein might leave the Northern Ireland
Executive and force early elections.

------------------
A DRASTIC "PLAN B"
------------------

4. (C) Our interlocutors added that the Irish and the NIO
were also discussing a "Plan B," which would mean the British
taking up de facto day-to-day governance of Northern Ireland
in close collaboration with the Irish, in the event of a
failure to reconstitute a functioning Northern Ireland
executive after elections. McGarry emphasized that Plan B
would not come into effect before at least one, probably two,
elections in Northern Ireland, and Conmy said Plan B was
meant more as a way to pressure Robinson to cooperate with
Sinn Fein and agree to devolution than as an imminent
possibility.

------------------------
CRITICISM OF THE BRITISH
------------------------

5. (C) Both Conmy and McGarry (STRICTLY PROTECT) opined that
the British had been too easy on Robinson, in effect allowing
him to link parades with devolution. Conmy (STRICTLY
PROTECT) said Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin
McGuinness (Sinn Fein) was upset about British Northern
Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward's actions on a recent trip
to the U.S. Woodward had apparently complained to American
interlocutors about McGuinness, being problematic. The
Americans had then called &their friends in Sinn Fein8 to
report that.

-----------------------
VERY SOBERLY OPTIMISTIC
-----------------------

6. (C) Our interlocutors summed up the situation as dicey,
with a real chance of failure. They maintained, though, that
they were basically optimistic that they would find a way to

DUBLIN 00000524 002.2 OF 002


package the St. Andrew,s issues in a form that both Sinn
Fein and Robinson could accept, and that would allow Robinson
to agree to devolution by Christmas.
ROONEY

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