Ireland will not be ‘selfish’ on Russia sanctions – Varadkar

Irish politicians on Thursday urged the Government to respond strongly to the crisis in Ukraine.

Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty urged Tanaiste Leo Varadkar to ensure that there is a clampdown on Russian money moving through the country and called for a “humanitarian” response in Ukraine.

In a specially agreed press conference on Thursday morning, Taoiseach Micheal Martin condemned the “outrageous” actions of Russia in Ukraine and promised harsh new sanctions from the EU.

He also confirmed that the country will waive visa requirements for Ukrainians seeking to enter Ireland.

Mr Doherty said: “I want to begin on behalf of Sinn Fein by expressing our complete opposition to the actions of the Russian government in their violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and internationally recognized borders.

“And I’m sure that all of us here in this Dail are united in our condemnation of the latest actions of Russia overnight.

“This morning, we’ve all witnessed distressing scenes of families fleeing their homes, and very early reports of casualties

“We also have our own responsibilities in this regard.

“We know that Russia and (Vladimir) Putin’s inner circle possess large amounts of off-shore wealth.”

He said that the Irish financial world is a “major source of finance to the Russian economy”.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaking at Government Buildings in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

(PA Wire)

Mr Doherty cited figures showing that 118 billion euros of Russian money were funneled from Dublin to Russia between 2005 and 2017.

In his response, Mr Varadkar said that Ireland was not “neutral” on the crisis in Ukraine.

“Ireland is militarily neutral, but in this conflict, Ireland is not neutral at all.

“Our support for Ukraine is unwavering and unconditional,” he said.

“This is an act of aggression.

“It is unprecedented in the 21st century and gives us grim echoes of a much darker past.

“Ireland has much in common with Ukraine.

“And many people of Ukrainian origin have made their home in Ireland and they and their families are in our thoughts.”

Mr Varadkar said that Ireland would back tough new sanctions on Russia.

“Ireland will not be putting any selfish or economic interests ahead of required responses.

“We will support whatever sanctions are necessary including those that would disrupt the banking and financial services that are used by Russians, whether it be in this state, or in other states.

“And the same thing applies to aviation as well.”

He also accused Sinn Fein of being historically “soft on Russia”.

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan, in his intervention in the Dail, said: “This is not a time for political scoring from any sides of this house.

“The world is watching with huge alarm.”

He said that he welcomed the decision on a visa waiver, which Mr Varadkar said would likely be operational in the coming hours.

However, Mr O’Callaghan warned that it came “very late”.

He said that in recent weeks Ukrainians in Ireland, trying to secure a visa for family members in the country, had faced “huge bureaucratic hurdles”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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