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Cablegate: Irish Policy Director On Afghanistan, Nato Pfp

VZCZCXRO7814
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHDL #0545/01 3501445
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161445Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0373
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0043
RUEHBL/AMCONSUL BELFAST PRIORITY 1134

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 000545

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/16/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV EI AF
SUBJECT: IRISH POLICY DIRECTOR ON AFGHANISTAN, NATO PFP
STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT

REF: A. DUBLIN 535
B. DUBLIN 521
C. DUBLIN 510

DUBLIN 00000545 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Robert J. Faucher. Reasons 1.4(
b/d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: On December 15 Ciaran Murphy (STRICTLY
PROTECT), Assistant Secretary General and Policy Director in
the Irish Department of Defense, told Poloff there was a
slight possibility Ireland would send two military trainers
to Afghanistan to help train Afghan security forces. Ireland
hopes to ratify an EU Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and a
NATO Partnership for Peace SOFA, in 2010. In deference to
fears of awakening neutrality-based opposition to the SOFAs,
the two SOFAs will apply only to Irish troops outside of
Ireland and not/not to non-Irish troops in Ireland. U.S.
troops transiting to Afghanistan and Iraq through Shannon
airport in Ireland will continue to be handled informally.
END SUMMARY.

------------------------------------------
SMALL, LARGELY SYMBOLIC, TRAINING MISSIONS
------------------------------------------

2. (C) Murphy said Ireland had been exploring opportunities
to contribute trainers to Afghanistan, but faced
security-related and political obstacles. He described
discussions with Canada on sending two Irish soldiers,
probably a Lieutenant or Captain and an NCO, as instructors
in a Canadian-led training program for junior officers and
NCOs. Other participants would be from Sweden and Finland.
This idea had been rejected as too dangerous, however, since
Canada would not be able to provide logistical support such
as secure housing or secure transportation.

3. (C) The project's advantage would have been, according to
Murphy, its political palatability in a country protective of
its neutrality. Murphy said his soundings had confirmed that
working outside the NATO context with the Canadians, and with
fellow neutral countries Sweden and Finland, would have met
with the approval of the pacifist-oriented Green party (the
junior coalition partner in the government) and of the Irish
parliament.

4. (C) Cautioning that he had "just heard of this yesterday,"
Murphy told Poloff that Irish trainers might/might
participate in a similar, but NATO-led, training mission.
This possibility, too, would have to pass scrutiny on
security grounds and be approved by the parliament before
getting a go-ahead. Parliament approval would be more
difficult, Murphy speculated, because of the NATO moniker,
but he said parliament could probably be won over with the
argument that Ireland must support the international
community's efforts to build the capacity of the Afghan
security forces to provide for their own security.

------------------------------------
NO SOFA COVERING U.S. TROOP TRANSITS
------------------------------------

5. (C) When Poloff raised the possibility of concluding a
SOFA agreement with Ireland to cover U.S. troops transiting
through Ireland's Shannon airport on the way to/from
Afghanistan and Iraq, Murphy insisted that it would be
politically impossible to do so. He explained that, because
the Irish constitution forbids training or stationing of
foreign troops on Irish soil, Ireland could not conclude a
SOFA that would provide for the presence of foreign troops in
Ireland. Elaborating on that point, Murphy said that the two
SOFA's that he hopes Ireland will ratify in 2010, a SOFA with
European Union member states and a SOFA with NATO Partnership
for Peace countries, would both include provisos that they do
not/not apply to foreign troops transiting through Ireland,
but only to Irish troops on missions outside Ireland. (NOTE:
Whether the Irish constitution forbids training or stationing
of foreign troops in Ireland, as Murphy claims, is open to
question; the relevant passage, Article 15.6., states: "The
right to raise and maintain military or armed forces is
vested exclusively in the Oireachtas (Parliament). No
military or armed force, other than a military or armed force
raised and maintained by the Oireachtas, shall be raised or
maintained for any purpose whatsoever." END NOTE.)

6. (C) Murphy further averred that, while the Irish
constitution does not forbid foreign troops transiting
through Ireland or coming for ship visits, as U.S. troops do,
a SOFA that included provisions for transiting troops would
require legislative approval, since the constitution gives
the Irish parliament authority over military forces. Getting

DUBLIN 00000545 002.2 OF 002


legislation approving troop transits, and giving U.S. troops
transiting Ireland any sort of special status, said Murphy,
would entail a major public debate that would shine a
spotlight on the fact that U.S. troops are transiting Ireland
on the way to Afghanistan; it would awaken the opposition of
an Irish populace that is very zealous of Ireland's
neutrality. Murphy added that it could also jeopardize Irish
national security, since it would highlight Ireland's help to
the U.S. and thus expose it to possible terrorist attacks by
al Qaeda or associated groups. The conclusion to all of
this, Murphy maintained, is that the current informal
arrangement, in which troops are transiting regularly and
without incident, should remain in place.

7. (C) COMMENT: Irish officials have been noncommittal and
reticent in our engagement with them on additional
contributions to Afghanistan (reftels), but profess to want
to contribute more. We are stressing to them the symbolic
importance of making an additional contribution, of trainers
and/or development assistance, in time for the January 28
London conference. Judging from our conversations with
interlocutors, including Murphy, an additional troop
contribution appears not to be forthcoming; however we will
keep pressing the Irish on additional police or troop
trainers and development assistance. END COMMENT.


ROONEY

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