States stunned by Irish farmer power
Secret government cables reveal US bewildered by reluctance of Ahern administration to rile farm lobby over GMOs and CAP
Published 21/06/2011 | 05:00
United States government officials were puzzled and bemused by the power of the farming lobby, a series of secret cables to America about Ireland have revealed.
US officials kept a watching brief on agricultural policy, including WTO negotiations, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform and the Irish stance on genetically modified organisms (GMO).
Their comments are disclosed in the Ireland Cables, a tranche of more than 1,900 classified documents exclusively obtained by the Irish Independent from the whistleblowing organisation WikiLeaks.
One cable reveals that high-ranking Irish Government officials told the US ambassador that Ireland could not afford to be more flexible in EU discussions on the WTO agricultural negotiations, given domestic political sensitivities with the farm community.
The Irish officials told the ambassador of the "political dangers" if they reneged on EU commitments not to tamper with the CAP before Ireland's 2007 general elections.
Another cable details a meeting between the US ambassador and the then Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Micheal Martin, secretary general for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Gallagher, and the secretary general in the Department of the Taoiseach, Dermot McCarthy.
"The officials adopted the uniform line that the Government of Ireland (GOI) had previously promised the farm community that the CAP would not be revisited before 2013," wrote US officials. "The GOI had relied strongly on those promises to sell recent CAP reforms, and any reneging on those commitments would be politically explosive ahead of the 2007 general elections in Ireland."