View Full Version : Protesters to greet Bush on first visit to Ireland

June 25th, 2004, 08:42 PM
UK Telegraph

Protesters to greet Bush on first visit to Ireland

By Thomas Harding, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 25/06/2004)

The traditional Irish greeting of Cead Mile Failte (100,000 welcomes) is unlikely to be reserved for President George W Bush when he arrives at Shannon airport today on his first visit to the Republic.

Instead an army of protesters lies in wait. Nearly 200 Dublin lawyers have called for his arrest for war crimes and the Irish TUC has denounced him as "a menace to world peace".

But the protests will make little difference to Mr Bush who will be whisked in an armoured convoy for the eight-mile drive from the airport, along a sealed road to the ?900-a-night presidential suite at Dromoland Castle.

Unlike the previous presidential visitors, he will not be making any walkabouts during his 19-hour visit for the EU-US summit where he will discuss the Middle East and the fight against HIV/Aids.
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June 25th, 2004, 08:45 PM
UK Telegraph

Bush seeks a change of luck in Ireland

By Alec Russell in Ennis
(Filed: 26/06/2004)

President George W Bush was in an Irish castle last night, at the start of a tour which will be vital for the success of his mission in Iraq and for his flagging reputation at home.

With opinion polls showing new levels of domestic scepticism over his record as a "war leader" - until recently his greatest strength - Mr Bush could do with a morale boost from the Irish.

Ireland has traditionally offered the heartiest of receptions to American presidents. Mr Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, has said some of the best moments in his presidency were when he was mobbed in Ireland during the negotiations over the Northern Ireland peace process.

Images of Mr Bush alongside the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, his host at Dromoland Castle Hotel in County Clare, will go down well with the Irish American voting bloc as well as helping to counter charges that he has alienated the world. But the only crowds on the heavily policed roads yesterday were chanting anti-Bush slogans in a reminder that even Ireland cannot be counted on these days and that it will be a tricky tour.

Mr Bush is in Ireland for a US-EU summit today. Officially it will discuss a range of bilateral issues but there is only one subject on everyone's mind: Iraq and how to secure it after next week's handover of sovereignty.

This will come to a head at next week's Nato summit in Istanbul, where the administration is desperately hoping the alliance will make some concrete commitments to training the new Iraqi security forces.

Nato diplomats in Brussels met last night to co-ordinate their response to a request by Iyad Allawi, the interim Iraqi prime minister, for help - a plea which dovetails with the Bush administration's needs. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato's secretary-general, said he anticipated the allies would commit to "some form of training" on Monday, but there was dispute over whether the training should happen inside Iraq under a Nato flag, or outside the borders.

An opinion poll yesterday made clear the dangers Iraq posed to Mr Bush's presidency. For the first time a CNN-USA Today Gallup poll found that 54 per cent of Americans believed sending troops to Iraq was a mistake. Just three weeks ago only four in 10 thought it was a blunder.

This may well be Mr Bush's last foreign trip before November's election and his advisers are determined for him to be able to return home showing he has not alienated all America's traditional allies.

Condoleeza Rice, his national security adviser, framed the message to Nato as an appeal to the alliance to remain its core principles. "This is about the spread of freedom and liberty," she said. "That's what Nato has stood up for from the very beginning . . . Many of the members of Nato would not be free and at liberty themselves had it not been for the sacrifices of others, including sacrifices of the United States."

In a noticeably testy interview with Ireland's RTE television, Mr Bush defended his decision to invade Iraq and challenged the interviewer's assertion that most Irish people thought the world was more dangerous now than before the invasion.

"What was it like Sept 11th, 2001?" he replied. "I wouldn't have made the decisions I did if I didn't believe the world would be better. Why would I put people in harm's way if I didn't believe the world would be better?"

He remonstrated angrily after the journalist interrupted him. "History will judge what I'm about," he said.

Chris Patten, the EU's commissioner for external relations, offered a warm welcome ahead of Mr Bush's arrival.

"We have a shared interest in America, Europe and the rest of the world in trying to ensure that the new Iraq is able to be open, plural, democratic and, pray God, stable as well," he said.
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July 3rd, 2004, 12:57 AM
RTE catches W. with pants down, First Lady is frosty...

Politicus Interruptus
Prez's media handlers complain to embassy about RTE interview

By Susan Falvella-Garraty
June 30-July 6, 2004
The Irish Echo

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The White House has officially registered its concerns with the Irish embassy over a television interview conducted by RTE's Washington correspondent, Carole Coleman.

President Bush is well known for giving nicknames to staff and members of the press. Following his trip to Ireland last week, he might have a new one for Ireland's state broadcaster: Radio-Television-Evil.

The interview, conducted in an aggressive style, was distressing enough to the White House, but it was followed 24 hours later by an unexpected peek, courtesy of an RTE cameraman, of the president in his underwear while leaning toward a window at Dromoland Castle.

President George W. Bush.

Besides registering their displeasure at the diplomatic level, White House officials then withdrew their agreement to an interview originally scheduled for Saturday morning with First Lady Laura Bush, which was also due to be conducted by Coleman. No explanation was offered as to why the interview with Mrs. Bush was canceled.

The row started on the eve of the president's departure from Washington to Shannon. Coleman was allowed an exclusive interview in the Map Room of the White House.

Although over the years there have been several presidential interviews by journalists for Irish newspapers, this was the first Irish television interview since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

Coleman proceeded with consistently definitive questioning of President Bush, who was clearly rattled at the intensity.

"Please, please, for a minute, OK?" Bush said in response to a question about the Middle East. "It'd be better if you'd let me finish my answers and then you can follow up, if you don't mind."

The director of the newly formed White House office of Global Communications, Mary Catherine Andrews, rang the Irish embassy's press secretary immediately after the interview was broadcast on the RTE Prime Time news show to express concern.

"The White House rang Thursday evening," said Irish embassy spokeswoman S?ghle Dougherty. "They were concerned over the number of interruptions and that they thought the president was not given an opportunity to respond to the questions."

The White House registered its concerns with the embassy because embassy staff had helped vet the request for the interview.

"The White House came to us weeks before the summit and asked what we thought of the request" by RTE for an interview, Dougherty said.

"The White House made it clear they only wanted to do television, and we explained that RTE was certainly a credible news organization.

"They were mostly troubled by what they said was the way the president was 'talked over.' "

During the interview, President Bush disputed the assertion by Coleman that the world had become a more dangerous place since the invasion by U.S. and British troops into Iraq, and that the focus had shifted from going after Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks to going after Saddam Hussein.

"On Sept. 11, 2001, we were attacked in an unprovoked fashion -- everybody thought the world was calm," the president said. "There've been bombings since then, not because of my response to Iraq. There were bombings in Madrid. There were bombings in Istanbul. There were bombings in Bali. There were killings in Pakistan."

At one point the president referred to Saddam Hussein's use of weapons of mass destruction against his own people.

"Indeed, Mr. President, but you didn't find the weapons of mass destruction," Coleman retorted.

"Let me finish," Bush said. "Let me finish, please. Please. You ask the questions and I'll answer them, if you don't mind."

As the interview continued, President Bush admonished Coleman three more time in similar terms as the two wrestled over control of the direction of the interview.

The tenor of the interview was established early when Coleman pointed out that the president should not expect a "c?ad a m?le f?ilte" the next day by the majority of Irish people when Air Force One touched down in Shannon. Many Irish people, Coleman added, were deeply disappointed over the U.S. military's treatment of prisoners in Iraq and detainees in Guantanamo, Cuba.

"I hope the Irish people understand the great values of our country, and if they think that a few soldiers represent the entirety of America, they really don't understand America then," the president said.

The Bush White House has made huge, and largely successful, efforts to control the media's coverage of the president.

Even Coleman had to agree to not use her own cameramen and technicians in order to get the interview. The interview was taped by White House staff television technicians.

The massive security efforts had gone along as planned, with 6,000 officers providing security for the President and Mrs. Bush during their short stay in Dromoland Castle in Newmarket-on-Fergus in County Clare. Demonstrators never got anywhere close to the president during the 18 hours he was on the ground.

But if the demonstrators had to try to make the case that Bush was like an emperor with no clothes, it was RTE who gave them the pictures to prove their point.

The president appeared at the window of his hotel room and could be seen from the waist up wearing an undershirt. The video was distributed to all worldwide media outlets and were previewed by journalists at the press-pool center at the castle.

Moments after the distribution, a memo was sent to all major media outlets from the Irish government prohibiting the broadcasting of Bush in his underwear.

But it was too late. Sky News had already broadcast the image.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern later told Sky's "Sunday With Adam Boulton" program: "The cameras were meant to have been off five minutes earlier."

He added: "Certainly a camera crew that was working for us should not have been filming George Bush's bedroom. I mean, that isn't what we're meant to be doing."

Showing why he's earned the moniker "the Teflon Taoiseach," Ahern concluded: "In actual fact he looks a very fit man, probably far fitter than me. He goes out jogging and cycling every day and he's a very healthy-looking fellow."

This story appeared in the issue of June 30-July 6, 2004
(c) 2004 Irish Echo Newspaper Corp.
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