Russian statement on Finbar Cafferkey death condemned as ‘threatening’ and ‘chilling’

Embassy warns official sympathy extended to family could see Ireland considered ‘participant of the conflict’

Finbar Cafferkey from Achill was killed in Ukraine.

The Russian embassy in Dublin has warned the Government that official sympathy extended to the family of an Irish man killed in Ukraine could lead to Ireland being considered a “participant of the conflict with all the ensuing consequences”.

The embassy also said the Irish Government and media “bear responsibility” for the death of Finbar Cafferkey.

Achill Island man killed battling Russian forces in eastern UkraineOpens in new window ]

The statement issued on Friday night was immediately condemned by the chairman of the Dáil Committee on Foreign Affairs & Defence Charlie Flanagan as “threatening, intimidating and chilling”.

Mr Cafferkey’s father, Tom, confirmed on Thursday afternoon at the family home at Cashel, Achill that his son had been killed in Ukraine but he didn’t elaborate on the circumstances in which his son had lost his life.

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Finbar Cafferkey had combat experience fighting with Kurdish militias against Islamic State in Syria.

News of Mr Cafferkey’s death has been greeted with shock and sadness on Achill Island where one local described him as “a man of principle” and recalled that he had worked around eight years ago on the border between Greece and Macedonia, assisting refugees landing in dinghies.

The Russian embassy questioned the Tánaiste Micheál Martin’s statement following the death of Mr Cafferkey.

“We have noted that on April 28th Tánaiste has expressed his sympathies to the family of Finbar Cafferkey following reports of his death fighting presumably with the Ukrainian military against Russian armed forces,” the statement issued on Friday night said.

Tánaiste pays tribute to Irish ‘man of clear principles’ killed fighting in UkraineOpens in new window ]

“Mr Martin called him ‘obviously a young man of clear principles’. Every loss of life is sad and regretful. We do not know who Finbar Cafferkey was, except that for whatever reason he was fighting in a foreign land.

“We do not know what his principles were. What we do know, though, is that in a very big way it is the Irish Government and media who bear responsibility for the death of Finbar Cafferkey,” the statement continued.

“It has been the Government and media who have been promoting anti-Russian propaganda, distorting the truth about the conflict in Ukraine, misleading people like Finbar Cafferkey. Now they face the results of their own efforts.”

The statement added that the Russian administration did not know “if Mr Martin’s remarks signify support for the Irish to take part in combat in Ukraine, but we do know that if that is the case, then Ireland would be the direct participant of the conflict with all the ensuing consequences.”

In a tweet Mr Flanagan said the statement was “threatening, intimidating and chilling”.

He said the “hostile remarks are unacceptable” and added that it was “beyond time Ambassador Filatov and his crew were asked to leave our country”.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor