Irish Republican News · December 17, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ahern feared for career over renditions - WikiLeaks

A leaked cable published by WikiLeaks has described how former 26-County Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern knew that at least three illegal ‘extraordinary rendition’ flights had used Shannon airport when he held a meeting with the US ambassador in December 2007.

The flights brought CIA captives from the Middle East and elsewhere to interrogation centres in Europe for questioning or torture and to the Guantanamo internment camp on the island of Cuba.

An American embassy cable describing a meeting between then US ambassador Thomas C. Foley and Mr Ahern said the Minister noted he had “put his neck on the chopping block” and would pay a severe political price if it ever emerged the covert flights had entered Ireland or if one was discovered in the future.

“He [Mr Ahern] seemed quite convinced that at least three flights involving renditions had refueled at Shannon Airport before or after conducting renditions elsewhere,” the cable said, adding the Minister “stated he ‘could use a little more information’ about the flights, musing that it might not be a bad idea to allow the random inspection of a few planes to proceed, which would provide cover if a rendition flight ever surfaced.”

The cable states Mr Ahern’s public stance on the abductions was “rock-solid” but added that the issue “agitated him”.

“Ahern seemed to be fishing for renewed assurances from the Ambassador that no rendition flights have transited Ireland, or would transit in the future,” the cable text said.

Ahern suddenly announced earlier this month that he would retire from national politics at the end of the current parliament in the Spring, although it is not clear if his decision is related to today’s leak.

Responding today, Amnesty International called for an inquiry into the use of Irish airspace by the CIA for extraordinary renditions flights following the publication of the cable.

Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “So-called rendition operations are nothing more than kidnapping and torture. The Irish Government clearly knew that Shannon was being used as a launching pad for CIA operations but was unwilling to do anything about it.”

The use of Shannon to facilitate extraordinary renditions must be fully investigated and the legislation around aircraft using Irish airspace has to be toughened up.”

Earlier this month, another diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks revealed former US ambassador to Ireland James C Kenny suspected the government imposed new conditions on the use of Shannon airport by US troops in 2006 “to dampen public criticism” ahead of a general election the following year.

That cable was the first from the US embassy in Dublin to be released by the whistleblower organisation as part of its publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked US diplomatic dispatches.

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