Diplomats fretted about allowing Iran to open an embassy in Dublin because of its backing for the IRA as well as Fianna Fáil links with high-profile personalities in Iraq, State files have revealed.
Papers released in the National Archives show Iranian officials in Tehran in 1981 approached Ireland’s Charge d’Affaires in Tehran about the possibility of opening an embassy.
Dublin’s Department of Foreign Affairs was ordered to draw up a report on the possible ramifications.
One of the main causes of concern, according to the documents, was Iranian support for the IRA, particularly in the aftermath of the hunger strikers in the Maze prison.
“The championing by Iran of Bobby Sands comes to mind here as does the reported contact in the aftermath of the revolution between a PIRA member and the then foreign minister Ghotbzadeh,” the report states.
But the Irish diplomat suggests this potential problem could be “brought under control” fairly quickly.
“The present stance is as much due to ignorance, or use of a convenient outlet for anti-Britishness, as it is to zeal for the Provo cause,” the official writes.
“Libya provides an example of a country once actively engaged in material support of the IRA which was successfully taken off that course.” Another problem highlighted was the possibility Iraq would press for an embassy if Iran were allowed to open one.
“We have successfully kept the Iraqis at bay in the past but might now run the risk of offending them politically with, possibly, consequent results in the commercial area,” the report notes.
“A factor not to be neglected here is the real possibility of domestic political controversy, given the good relations between some members of Fianna Fáil and high-ranking Iraqi personalities.
“The Workers Party, for some reason or other, is attracted to Iraq and some of its members have been in Bagdad on fraternal visits.”
In the event, the report recommends no obstacle be put in the way of Iran opening an embassy in Dublin.
However, officials are warned to be frank with Iranians about “our unwillingness to tolerate undiplomatic activity”.
Iran opened an embassy in Ireland in 1983.