The United States is routinely given access to sensitive information by the highest levels of the Irish government through an extensive network of official – but highly confidential – contacts.
American officials count government ministers, senior civil servants and top diplomats among “confidential” sources, leaked US embassy cables reveal.
Their activities are disclosed in the Ireland Cables – a tranche of over 1,900 classified documents exclusively obtained by the Irish Independent from the whistleblowing organisation WikiLeaks.
Today – in the first of a series of daily extracts from the Ireland Cables – the Irish Independent takes you behind the veil of international diplomacy and into the secret world of Ireland’s foreign policy and domestic affairs.
One leaked cable reveals how former minister and current Fianna Fail vice-president Mary Hanafin briefed the American Embassy on tense ongoing coalition negotiations.
The word “PROTECT” appears beside her name in the cable, meaning her identity and/or her comments were not to be made public.
Ms Hanafin last night confirmed she gave the briefing at the behest of US Ambassador Dan Rooney.
According to the dispatch, Ms Hanafin made a number of derogatory comments about her Green Party coalition partners.
“She said she had the impression that, if some of the Greens had their way, the Programme for Government would emphasize ‘hares, stags and badgers while everyone else in the country is drowning in this economy’,” Ambassador Rooney told Washington in the cable.
Ms Hanafin refused to say last night if she stood over the remarks attributed to her. She described the meeting as “a frank update on the state of politics in the country at that time”.
Other cables reveal the ease of access the US has to the top levels of successive Irish governments – often being briefed on matters of huge public interest prior to the Opposition or the Irish people.
Much of this information was shared with US officials via high-ranking Irish civil servants and diplomats. And stringent efforts were made to keep the identities of these contacts under wraps.
The Ireland Cables, which date from 1985 to early 2010, reflect the ease of access the US had to sensitive information at the highest levels of government.