Documents reveal US fear of ‘emotional’ Irish Americans
Documents reveal US fear of ‘emotional’ Irish Americans


Secret US embassy cables have revealed that officials in Dublin warned of the “emotional involvement” of Irish Americans in Irish politics, but expressed satisfaction that senior politicians in the main Irish parties were supportive of US government interests.

The Wikileaks website published American diplomatic records dating between 1973 and 1976 for the first time this week.

In one document dated October 9th, 1973, the US embassy in Dublin assesses Ireland-US relations. Describing them as “excellent”, the cable says “those in the power queue of both major parties [Fianna Fail and Fine Gael] are generally well-disposed toward the United States”.

But there was still room for concern because of Ireland’s traditional neutrality and its support for agricultural subsidies.

On these issues, it expected to see the Irish “aligned with the French”, then considered a relatively troublesome member of the European Community.

The embassy was also concerned by Russia’s decision to open diplomatic contacts with Ireland.

“We expect the Soviets to do what they can to exploit Ireland’s position as the only neutral nation in the EC and the only area in western Europe with serious civil strife. The Irish govt is aware of the problem but may not yet be equipped to cope with it.”

The document also commented on efforts to end the fighting in the North.

“Odds probably favor painful and jerky winding down of conflict. But there is still a possibility of all-out civil war,” the document said.

“One source of friction remains: emotional involvement of the Irish-American community in the US. For us, this merely creates some inconvenience, but the Irish are very concerned about American contributions of money and arms to the IRA.”

Previous cables released by the same organisation revealed that many key Irish civil servants and politicians regularly shared their ‘political insights’ with US officials, including the CIA and FBI, at the American Embassy in Ballsbridge.

Among those who took part in the briefings was the current Tanaiste and leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore. Former Fianna Fail Minister for Education Mary Hanafin was identified as a “protected” source - someone who provided valuable information and whose identity was not to be revealed under any circumstances.

It was also revealed that senior Sinn Féin official Rita O’Hare was considered a key source of information. Expressing anger in 2005 that she had been denied a visa to the US, embassy officials said “Rita is an important player in the peace process”. They said that contact with her had given the US government “advance information on Sinn Féin actions” and that she had served as “a conduit to the top” of the Provisional IRA.

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