The Irish government has acted to limit transfers of American weapons to Israel and Iraq through Shannon Airport in the wake of public outrage after the Second Lebanon War, an American diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks reveals.
A cable sent in 2006 by the U.S. ambassador to Ireland at the time, James C. Kenny, discloses that the deputy head of mission warned Irish officials that the United States would begin using other European airports. Such a move could cost the Irish economy tens of millions of dollars.
After the Second Lebanon War, the Israel Defense Forces needed to restore its depleted ammunition stocks, but the ambassador's cable indicates that the Irish government has been making it increasingly difficult for American weapons shipments to Israel to pass through its airport.
The cable, sent from the Dublin embassy in September 2006, says that "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."
According to the ambassador, "Segments of the Irish public ... see the airport as a symbol of Irish complicity in perceived U.S. wrongdoing in the Gulf/Middle East." He said the Irish government "has recently introduced more cumbersome notification requirements for equipment-related transits in the wake of the Lebanon conflict."
The ambassador noted that the Irish foreign office protested to him that in February 2006, Apache helicopters were sent to Israel via Ireland without the local authorities being appropriately informed.
The ambassador wrote that senior Irish officials told him informally that if the United States made further mistakes in its conduct at the airport, the matter could become a central issue in Ireland's 2007 elections.
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