Politics

State wants further sanctions against Russia after ‘appalling crimes’, says Taoiseach


Ireland wants further sanctions against Russia in the wake of “appalling and barbaric crimes” committed by its troops, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has admitted that EU sanctions are not stopping the war and that is why Ireland will be backing a fifth package of sanctions in the coming days.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russia of war crimes after reports of atrocities near Kyiv, including in the town of Bucha.

The Taoiseach said the war is having an economic impact on Ireland and Europe, and it has exacerbated the cost of living crisis. However, he said Ireland supports further sanctions against Russia.

He referred to the incident in Bucha which, he said, saw “innocent civilians murdered with their hands tied behind their backs”.

“This war is having an [economic] impact but [we] cannot be blind in the first instance to the appalling human trauma and death that is being visited upon the people of Ukraine. ”

He said “every conceivable pressure” has to be put on Russia “to stop this war, stop this attack on humanity”.

Asked if new measures could include the expulsion of the Russian ambassador Yury Filatov, Mr Martin said: “I rule nothing out… Europe is repulsed by this.”

Mr Filatov has declined an invitation to attend Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s virtual address to the joint Houses of the Oireachtas tomorrow. A cross-party effort was to be made in the Dáil today to withdraw Mr Filatov’s invitation to attend.

‘Withdraw invitation’

Sinn Féin whip Pádraig Mac Lochlainn wrote to the whips of all other parties and groupings in the Dáil – including Government parties – asking them to support the withdrawal of the invitation.

Under Oireachtas protocol, all accredited ambassadors to Ireland are invited to sit in the public gallery during such events.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl confirmed at the weekend that the invitation was sent to Mr Filatov under that protocol. As of last night, 45 countries had accepted the invitation to attend the address by Mr Zelenskiy but Russia is not one of them.

A small group of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, selected by the Ukrainian ambassador, will be seated in the distinguished visitors’ gallery during Mr Zelenskiy’s address.

Mr Mac Lochlainn told The Irish Times he does “not think it is appropriate at all” that the ambassador attends. “I am hopeful that we will get political agreement from Government and Opposition parties to withdraw the invitation,” he said.

In interviews on RTÉ and Newstalk, Mr Coveney said Ireland will be backing further sanctions against Russia.

When asked what evidence there was that sanctions were stopping Russia, Mr Coveney accepted “they’re clearly not”, but insisted they could still be used as a deterrent for the continuation of war.

Mr Coveney said that discussions are happening this week in the European Union about a fifth sanctions package. “Ireland will be pushing hard for a significant ratcheting up of sanctions beyond where we have gone to date.”

He said this potentially includes energy and more Russian banks being removed from the SWIFT payments system.

Ireland will be at “the sharper end” in terms of what was being considered, he said.

Mr Coveney added that he had spoken to Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, who had been “quite graphic” about what he had seen.

Ireland was one of 39 countries that had pushed to get the International Criminal Court involved, Mr Coveney said. When asked if what he had seen reported from Bucha was a war crime, the Minister said yes, personally, he thought it was a war crime but it was up to the court to determine that.



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