Soviet diplomats: A Cabinet decision to open diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1973 was taken despite objections from the minister for defence that a Soviet embassy in Dublin would be a nest of spies. Mr Paddy Donegan claimed three out of four embassy personnel, including spouses, would have "an intelligence function".
"Ireland is of special interest to the Russian Intelligence Services," the minister wrote in a memorandum to government on June 27th, 1973. To overcome security objections, the minister for foreign affairs, Dr Garret FitzGerald had proposed that total embassy staff, including diplomatic, clerical and household personnel, be limited to about 22. But Mr Donegan responded: "It is to be expected that, allowing for spouses, a total strength of upwards of 44 would be involved and that of this number a total of about 30 would have an intelligence function."
Various types of "covert intelligence activities" could be expected, including "military espionage and subversion within the Defence Forces"; scientific, political and economic espionage and spying on a "third country" (e.g. Britain).
However, Dr FitzGerald noted Ireland was the only country in the European Community that had no diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. "Failure to have relations will place Ireland in an inferior and parochial position vis-a-vis our European partners," he added.