Belfast Telegraph

WikiLeaks: PSNI asked Irish government to ‘lighten up’ on republicans

By Adrian Rutherford

The Irish Government was told by the PSNI that its tough stance on Sinn Fein following the Northern Bank robbery was not helpful, according to a leaked cable.

Dermot Ahern said the Government had come under pressure from several sources — including the police — to “lighten up” when dealing with the party.

The comments are contained in a confidential dispatch reporting on a visit by then US Special Envoy Mitchell Reiss to the Republic.

The visit — in May 2005 — came five months after the Northern Bank raid, which had been widely blamed on the IRA.

In the wake of the robbery, the Irish Government was highly critical of Sinn Fein, with Bertie Ahern accusing its leadership of having prior knowledge of the raid.

During a conversation with Mr Reiss and other American officials, Dermot Ahern (right) stated that trust had to be re-established in Sinn Fein.

“FM Ahern also touched on the balance the GOI tries to strike in talking about and to Sinn Fein,” the cable states.

“He said PSNI and others told the GOI that its tough line on Sinn Fein since December had been helpful but no longer was, and they should ‘lighten up’.”

The confidential cable, written by then US Ambassador James Kenny, refers to concerns about the upcoming marching season.

Adrian O’Neill from the Department for Foreign Affairs’ Anglo-Irish office allegedly referred to difficulties with the Parades Commission.

“He noted that the DUP and Orange Order were ‘playing games’ with the Parades Commission and repeated the view that the PSNI and the Parades Commission were not connecting well,” the cable states.

According to the document, similar concerns had been expressed by Michael Collins, Secretary General in the Taoiseach’s Office, at a meeting between Mr Reiss and Bertie Ahern.

WikiLeaks: US Embassy Cables
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