Commissioner rejects claim gardaí ‘stood by’ as Russian embassy gates rammed

Drew Harris made comments at a Women in Policing conference in Dublin

The scene at the Russian embassy in Dublin on Monday. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has rejected accusations by the Russian Embassy that gardaí stood idly by as a truck was driven through in the embassy gates on Monday.

At 1.30pm, a large ecclesiastical supply truck was reversed through the gates over the embassy, forcing them open. The driver of the truck was arrested at the scene.

In a strongly worded statement later that day, the Russian embassy accused the Government of violating international law requiring host states to protects foreign embassies and diplomats.

It also criticised gardaí, stating: “The incident took place in the presence of Garda officers, who stood idle.”


“I don’t particularly accept that commentary,” the Garda Commissioner told The Irish Times on Tuesday as he opened the International Women in Policing Conference (IWP) which is taking place this week in Dublin Castle.

He said the suspect who drove the truck "was immediately arrested." When other recent incidents occurred outside the Embassy "individuals are now in the criminal justice system. We have made detections in all those instances," Mr Harris said.

“To say we were standing idly by is not correct.”

The embassy has been the scene of daily protests since Russian launched its invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago. There have been multiple reports of criminal damage, including by a priest who allegedly threw paint on the embassy gates.

Fr Fergal McDonagh said he will not pay any fine. “My defence is provocation. I was provoked into doing it. I’m not the person who should be in court,” he told The Irish Times.

Mr Harris said security arrangements at Russian embassy will be regularly assessed and will remain “proportionate and necessary”.

He also warned protesters they must stay within the law when demonstrating.

“Obviously, there is a lot of tension and people are protesting as they are entitled to do. But this is a time of high emotion and frustration among those protesters.

“What we say to them is that you are entitled to protest but you must follow directions of gardaí on duty and obviously you must not commit offences.”

The IWP conference will host police delegates from about 20 countries over three days.

Mr Harris said the conference shows how seriously the Garda takes gender representation. Women make up 28 per cent of the Garda, which he said is “very credibly from a European perspective and that the force is “one of the highest preforming organisations in that way.”

Recent figures show 40 per cent of those applying to the Garda during the most recent recruitment competition were women, he said.

“Only yesterday I promoted approximately 30 women to the rank of sergeant. So women are progressing in the organisation as well.

The representation of women helps build the strength of the Garda team “through diversity and through bringing a range of skills and thinking to difficult and complex problems.”

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times