Irish government faces pushback on decision to expel Russian diplomat
Ireland’s government is facing pushback for its decision to follow the lead of the UK, the US and other European countries and expel a Russian diplomat from the country.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney released a statement on Tuesday, confirming that Dublin would stand in “unqualified solidarity” with the UK, which has accused the Russian government of being responsible for the chemical attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
The decision has sparked controversy in Ireland, with a number of political and media figures making their disagreement with the government clear.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke against the decision in the Irish Parliament after the announcement was made. “Essentially you're asking us to trust Boris Johnson and dare I say this is not the wisest course of action,” McDonald said to Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
Sinn Fein leader @MaryLouMcDonald says Ireland is being asked to trust UK intelligence services and Boris Johnson on Russian involvement in UK attack pic.twitter.com/c0PUmStUM7— RTÉ Politics (@rtepolitics) March 27, 2018
Some high-profile figures pointed out the hypocrisy of Ireland expelling a Russian diplomat when the country did not expel British diplomats for their government’s highly-likely involvement in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which killed 34 people in 1974.
If it is ok to expel Russian diplomats because of Russia’s suspected involvement in the attempted murder of two people, what then should we do with the almost certain involvement in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974, in which 33 people were murdered?— Vincent Browne (@vincentbrowne) March 26, 2018
Varadkar expelled a diplomat to show "solidarity" w UK.The same UK whose own spies shipped weapons from South Africa to loyalist paramilitaries, who were involved in Dublin/Monaghan bombings which killed 34 Irish people. Taoiseach is willing to risk our neutrality for them.— Frankie Gaffney (@FrankieGaffney) March 27, 2018
Irish MEP Matt McCarthy tweeted that the government’s decision was “senseless and embarrassing,” given that the British government has “actually murdered Irish citizens” and refuses to provide information on the 1974 bombings.
This is senseless & embarrassing. Putin is a bad article but our government has expelled an official of one state at the behest of another whose agents have actually murdered Irish citizens & whose government continues to withhold info on those killingshttps://t.co/HtvFMv1pvM— Matt Carthy MEP (@mattcarthy) March 27, 2018
Others said that since Ireland is supposed to be a neutral and non-aligned country, the government should have waited for evidence before condemning Russia for Skripal’s poisoning.
Incredible that with zero evidence, Leo Varadkar is dancing to the tune of the murky British Intelligence services on Salisbury incident. These are the same people who told the world they "established beyond doubt" that Saddam Hussein had an enormous chemical weapons programme...— Mark Moloney ☆ (@MarkMDub) March 23, 2018
Varadkar's intention to consider expelling Russian diplomats at the behest of Britain and the EU is shamefully demeaning. We should act in our own interests, not jump to at the click of the UK and EU's fingers when no evidence is put before us.— Eoin Ó Murchú (@Eomurchu) March 23, 2018
Given that Ireland is supposedly a neutral country, has Irish PM Varadkar asked his Dept of Foreign Affairs to get answers from Britain to these 30 pertinent questions re #Skripal#Novichok case before expelling any Russian diplomats? Smoke and mirrors. https://t.co/roEPD9KxHi— Tom Stokes (@_irishrepublic) March 23, 2018
Some suggested that if the Irish government wanted to expel Russian diplomats, it should stop allowing the US military to carry weapons and troops through Shannon Airport in County Clare.
The Russians are here! If only we had Brian Hayes' EU army and a MetroLink to defend us! Ireland must retaliate for a "suspected" nerve agent attack... in the UK. (Don't mention Shannon and rendition flights btw) @SaturdayRTE— Oliver Callan (@olivercallan) March 24, 2018
I see the Irish government is considering expulsion of Russian diplomats. How many US diplomats were expelled for the use of Shannon airport for rendition flights and refuelling stops for military flights to Iraq and Afghanistan?— Dave Semple (@DaveSemple) March 25, 2018
Ireland considering kicking #Russian diplomats out following UK's lead. An absolute embarrassment. Are we going to kick the Americans and their planes full of weapons (breaching international law) out of @ShannonAirport too? @Rus_Emb_Ireland— Danielle Ryan (@DanielleRyanJ) March 23, 2018
Russia’s ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov called the Irish government’s decision “totally unwarranted” and “uncalled for.”