No confirmation NSA spied on us, says Gilmore

 Eamon Gilmore: 'Friends don't bug each other's telephones.'

The Government has not been given any information on whether the US National Security Agency has been spying on Ireland, but it has warned that eavesdropping on phones is not acceptable.

Standing alongside US diplomat Richard Haass, who is helping to tackle a number of outstanding problems in the North, Tanáiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday warned the US that “friends don’t bug each other’s telephones” and insisted such activity was unacceptable.

It has emerged that the Government raised theissue of NSA spying on the Council of Europe headquarters in Brussels with the US embassy in Dublin.

“We have at official level raised this with the United States embassy here and at European Union level,” said Mr Gilmore. “The high representative Catherine Ashton has raised it with the secretary of state John Kerry and it is something we are very clear on. Friends don’t bug each other’s telephones.”

However, Mr Gilmore said Ireland had no information as to whether surveillance was carried out here.

In Brussels last week the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said he “always” operated on the premise that all calls he made were being listened to.

The crisis continued on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday after Google expressed outrage at allegations that millions of records were taken from the internet giant’s internal network, suggesting the NSA intercepted data at as it passed through fibre-optic cables connecting Google’s various data centres.

The NSA denied the latest leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden which allege that it hacked into cables running between Google and Yahoo data centres.

It is claimed up to 35 world leaders had their phones spied upon, including German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose phone was bugged since 2002.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore expressed regret at the latest defection by a councillor from the Labour Party.

Wicklow Council chairman Jimmy O’Shaughnessy yesterday resigned, saying the recent Budget was the last straw for him.

Cuts in the bereavement grant and the job seekers allowance for the under-25s and the increase in Dirt tax were just some of the issues he felt demonstrated that the Labour Party leadership was out of touch.

Mr Gilmore said “Naturally I regret anybody resigning from then party, but we’ve had a very difficult job to do coming into government at the beginning of 2011.”

He paid tribute to the Labour Party TDs, councillors, and party members who have “stuck to the task”, saying the party had been given a mandate from the Irish people and it intended to see it through.


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