Saturday 3 December 2016

Former US envoy in wrangle over security form

Ex-ambassador rejects opponents' claims about non-disclosure of decades-old arrests

Published 25/07/2010 | 05:00

Accused: Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley greet Tom
Foley, the former US ambassador to Ireland, in 2008
Accused: Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley greet Tom Foley, the former US ambassador to Ireland, in 2008

A FORMER American ambassador to Ireland is accused of not disclosing his two past arrests in a security clearance form he filled out before he was appointed as the White House's man in Dublin.

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Tom Foley, who regularly featured in Ireland's social pages accompanying some of Ireland's most eligible women, was required to fill out a background check in advance of his appointment in 2006.

Political opponents in America have taken him to task for not disclosing on the form that he had twice been arrested, once in relation to a traffic offence and another occasion for a breach of peace.

However, Mr Foley was quoted by the Associated Press on Friday as saying that he believed he had accurately filled out the security clearance forms.

He was required to fill out the questionnaires in advance of his appointment as ambassador and to an earlier appointment in Iraq, which included questions on whether he had been arrested in the past seven years and whether he had been charged with a felony.

Mr Foley answered no to both questions because his arrests occurred more than seven years ago and he said he did not believe he was charged with a felony.

He was first arrested in 1981 following a car accident in which he accused of driving into parked vehicles.

He was subsequently arrested in 1993 in connection with a breach of peace in a dispute with his former wife. According to Associated Press, the charges were dropped.

"Nobody ever told me that it might be a felony," Mr Foley said. He said he considered the matter "a minor traffic incident" that wasn't serious enough to rise to the level of a felony.

Mr Foley is running for governor of Connecticut in the primary next month and the political charge is being led by one of his two challengers for the nomination.

But he has rejected accusations from one of two opponents for the nomination, Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele, who accused Foley of falsifying documents.

The controversies in the run-up to the contest are in contrast to Mr Foley's time in Dublin as ambassador.

His circle of friends included Sarah Owens, the former girlfriend of the actor John Hurt, and the broadcaster Mary Kennedy was also seen on his arm.

Mr Foley, whose term ended in two years ago, returned to the cut and thrust of politics in the US where he has been engaged in a vigorous campaign for governor.

He returned to Ireland last year to marry his American bride, Leslie Ann Fahrenkopf.

The guest list at the ceremony at Castletown House in Celbridge, Co Kildare, was a star-studded affair, including U2, EU Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy and his wife, the late Gerry Ryan and his partner, Melanie Verwoerd, and the teenage actress Sarah Bolger, who was dating Mr Foley's son, Tom.

Sunday Independent

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