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Republic minister Dick Roche denies Freemason links

Irish minister Dick Roche has denied he is a Freemason or a member of controversial Catholic group, Opus Dei. In a candid interview, the Republic's Minister for Europe also reveals his discomfort with the US military using Shannon Airport.

Mr Roche, who is a teetotaller, disclosed that Bertie Ahern asked him out for a drink the night before he resigned. The 61-year-old said this was a gesture which convinced him something was wrong with the then Taoiseach.

"I was with Bertie the night before he announced his decision at the Cabinet breakfast. I knew something was wrong.

"Bertie knows I don't drink and it was the first time in years he'd asked me out for a drink. I knew something was up. There was a sense that something was going to happen."

In the interview, which appears in the current edition of Hot Press magazine, Minister Roche said he is convinced that anti-Lisbon Treaty group, Libertas has an agenda to reduce the European Union to a trade organisation -- something which everyone assumed was the EU's original purpose.

In the run-up to the Lisbon referendum, it was alleged that the Government contained high-ranking Freemasons, but Mr Roche said he is not one of them.

"There are many decent people in the Masons and Opus Dei, but I haven't been a member of any of them."

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