Irish Government acted "to protect U.S. interests and property"

US interests at Shannon

Recently released cables from the U.S. embassy in Dublin show once again how little respect the Irish government had for national and international laws, Irish sovereignty and human rights. Protecting U.S. interests and property seems to have been their overriding concern, rather than the people being tortured and bombed by the CIA and U.S. military.

A 2006 cable entitled "Shannon five not guilty" which was released by Wikileaks on 24 August quotes U.S. Ambassador Kenny as saying "We will continue to press the GOI [government of Ireland] hard to protect U.S. interests and property". While this is hardly surprising, it is quite deplorable to read about a Clare Senator's attempts to override the Irish justice system on their behalf. Even though a jury found that the "Shannon Five" (Pitstop Ploughshares) action to disarm a warplane at Shannon was justified, Senator Brendan Daly (Fianna Fail) raised the case with the Attorney General and even "signaled his intent to request the Director of Public Prosecutions to take the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal" according to the cable.

As someone who served in government cabinet positions, including Minister for Social Welfare and Minister for Defence, Brendan Daly should have had more respect for the decisions of an Irish court.

We know from another 2006 cable that Defense Minister Willie O'Dea and other Fianna Fail politicians also questioned the Pitstop Ploughshares court decision. At the same time government ministers like Dermot Ahern and Noel Treacy were also doing their bit for the U.S. by repeatedly - and successfully - obstructing attempts to inspect planes at Shannon. Yet another cable (from 2005) says that the Department of Foreign Affairs Political Director Rory Montgomery - presumably acting on the Irish government's behalf - even went as far as to ask the U.S. government to "clarify its interpretation of international law and sovereignty governing searches of state and state contracted aircraft".

There can be no clearer statement of the Fianna Fail government's willingness to circumvent national and international laws in order to continue its facilitation of CIA kidnapping and torture. The Attorney General is tasked with providing legal advice to the government based on Irish law  - like, for example, the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against Torture) Act, 2000. Instead he and the government were asking the U.S., what laws they thought should and should not be upheld in Ireland.

The end result is that the Gardai at Shannon have been told to follow a policy decision not to search U.S. planes.

According to Ambassador Kenny, the Irish Government also consistently acted "to ensure continued U.S. military transits at Shannon in the face of public criticism."  He must have been quite pleased at the success of his efforts to get a compliant Irish government to support his country's acts of illegality. However the cables also reveal a certain uneasiness. The Ambassador refers to the government acting "in the face of public criticism", to "pressure from parliament to inspect U.S. carriers", and to the "vocal anti-war lobby that has demonstrated against U.S. use of Shannon from the start of the Iraq War". He knew that the government was acting against the wishes of the Irish people, and could hardly have been briming with confidence that it would manage to continue to do so.

Five years on, it would be interesting to find out how the present U.S. ambassador to Ireland feels about their operations at Shannon. Has he too been assured, this time by Fine Gael and Labour ministers, that they will ignore the public criticism, the law, and the suffering of countless millions of people in Afghanistan and elsewhere? Or does he expect these ministers to implement their programme for government promise to prohibit the use of Irish airspace and airports for purposes not in line with international law?

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