Cablegate: Shannon/Immigration: Pm Expresses Concerns

Published: Wed 8 Dec 2004 04:38 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T DUBLIN 001770
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2014
1. (SBU) Summary. During a meeting with the Ambassador and
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the Irish Prime
Minister raised his concerns about two separate issues: the
U.S. military's use of Shannon and the immigration bill
pending in Congress. He also updated the Senators on the
Northern Ireland Peace Process and discussed transatlantic
relations. End Summary
A Warning on Shannon
2. (S) PM Ahern asked the Ambassador to confirm that the U.S.
has not and will not transport prisoners through Shannon
airport. Echoing comments we had heard from DFA earlier in
the week (reftel), the prime minister said that while there
are no plans to alter arrangements with the U.S. at Shannon,
the subject is "beginning to worry people." He referenced
his government's repeated defense of the U.S. military's use
of Shannon to parliament, in which he and other ministers
have referred to U.S. assurances that enemy combatants have
not transited Shannon enroute to Guantanamo or elsewhere and
will not without consultation. "Am I all right on this?" he
asked the ambassador. Following the meeting, Sen McCain told
the ambassador he plans to raise Shannon with the
Administration when he returns to Washington and will
underscore how very important it is that the U.S. not ever be
caught in a lie to a close friend and ally.
Immigration Bill - Concerns about Irish "overstays"
--------------------------------------------- ------
3. (SBU) The Prime Minister raised the issue of Irish
citizens who had overstayed their visas in the U.S. and asked
for an amnesty for them. He indicated that the Irish
government is following legislation in Congress closely and
would like Irish "overstays" to get a second chance. Sen
McCain recognized his concern and explained some of his own
goals with regard to the legislation. Comment: The prospect
of Irish overstays being deported from the U.S. is a major
concern with the Irish government and public. It garners
much press attention, and adds to disgruntlement over
fingerprinting. End Comment
Transatlantic Relations, Iraq, MEPP and Ukraine
--------------------------------------------- --
4. (C) Responding to questions from Senator McCain, the Prime
Minister said that the U.S. could solve its problems in
Europe by putting attention into the Middle East peace
process. PM Ahern said that Iraq must be a success and that
all must help make that happen. Politicians, the prime
minister said, were "getting over" their disagreement with
the U.S., but the public has not, yet, especially as regards
Guantanamo and Abu Graib. McCain raised the issue of
Ukraine. Ahern referred to Russian President Putin as a
"slippery character." He talked about the gala Putin had put
on for the EU at the celebration of St. Petersburg's 400th
anniversary but said there had been absolutely no Russian
follow through on promises made then with the EU. "All show
and no action" is how he described Putin's approach to the EU.
Sen. McCain Gets Standing Ovation
5. (U) Senator McCain came to Ireland to deliver a speech to
Trinity College on re-building transatlantic ties. He
received a standing ovation from the crowd of 400, and
favorable press coverage. His reference to Putin as an
autocrat meddling in Eastern Europe drew headlines, but the
thrust of his message was this, "When the United States and
the countries of Europe stand together, it creates a moral
and political force that gives no ground to the enemies of
freedom. The world needs us together and we need each
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