Gilmore condemns US for bugging phones of ‘friends’

Tánaiste says complaints made about US spying at national and European levels

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore during a press conference with former US Diplomat Dr Richard Haass at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin today. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore during a press conference with former US Diplomat Dr Richard Haass at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin today. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 18:52

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has today condemned the US for eavesdropping on the telephone conversations of European leaders.

Mr Gilmore was speaking at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Iveagh House in Dublin after a meeting with Dr Richard Haass, the US envoy who is chairing all party talks in Northern Ireland on current contentious issues.

Asked if he had raised the issue of US bugging, Mr Gilmore said the Irish Government already had. “It is unacceptable that any state would bug a friendly state and eavesdrop on telephone conversations and try to establish intelligence in that way,” he said.

Mr Gilmore said complaints had been made at official level to the US Embassy in Dublin and that, at European level, the high representative Catherine Ashton had been in touch with US secretary of state John Kerry about the matter.

“It is something we are very clear on. Friends don’t bug each other,” said the Tánaiste.

He added that the Irish authorities had no information in relation to US eavesdropping activities in this country.

Mr Gilmore and Mr Haas met over lunch to discuss a range of contentions issues currently dividing the parties in Northern Ireland.

Dr Haass is the Independent Chair of the Panel of Parties established by the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland to address parades, flags and emblems and dealing with the Past.

He began consultations in Northern Ireland in September and is working to reach agreement among the five parties of the Northern Executive by the end of December. He previously met the Tánaiste in New York in September.

As well as holding discussions with Mr Gilmore today Mr Haas also met Taoiseach Enda Kenny and members of the Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Talks were also held with the Ulster Council of the GAA and with members of 15 Years On, a group of individuals involved in peacebuilding and reconciliation, established to assess progress 15 years on from the Good Friday Agreement.