Classified By: Ambassador James C. Kenny; Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
Â¶1. (C) This is an action request. Please see para 10.
Â¶2. (C) Summary: Although supportive of continued U.S.
military transits at Shannon Airport, the Irish Government
has informally begun to place constraints on U.S. operations
at the facility, mainly in response to public sensitivities
over U.S. actions in the Middle East. Shannon remains a key
transit point for U.S. troops and materiel bound for theaters
in the global war on terror, while yielding diplomatic
benefits for the Irish Government and significant revenues
for the airport and regional economy. Segments of the Irish
public, however, see the airport as a symbol of Irish
complicity in perceived U.S. wrongdoing in the Gulf/Middle
East and in regard to extraordinary renditions, a view that
underpinned a recent jury decision to acquit the "Shannon
Five" protesters who damaged a U.S. naval aircraft. The
Irish Government has repeatedly defended U.S. interests in
the face of public criticism, but has recently introduced
more cumbersome notification requirements for
equipment-related transits in the wake of the Lebanon
conflict. These requirements, which entail a more expansive
interpretation of munitions of war, are designed to give the
Irish Government mor latitude to decide on allowable
transits, accoring to a senior Department of Foreign Affairs
oficial. We suspect that the Government aims with tese new
constraints to dampen public criticism ahead of the 2007
general elections, and we would apreciate Department
gudance on a USG response, including on any next steps
regarding the Shannon Five. End summary.
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