Russian ambassador to be invited to attend Zelenskiy address to Dáil

Ukrainian president to speak to joint Houses of the Oireachtas on Wednesday

Russian ambassador Yuriy Filatov is to be invited to attend Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy's address to the joint Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mr Zelenskiy is to address the Dáil and Seanad on Wednesday, and while he said he would not comment on any particular nation, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said all accredited ambassadors to Ireland would be invited to sit in the public gallery during the event.

“All of the diplomatic corps have been included, and it’s a matter for each ambassador to decide if they attend or not,” Mr Ó Fearghaíl told The Irish Times.

The Ceann Comhairle said a small group of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, selected by the Ukrainian ambassador, would be seated in the distinguished visitors' gallery during Mr Zelenskiy's address.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said he would make a short address commencing proceedings, just before 10am on Wednesday, and that he planned to call on Russian parliamentarians to take a stand on their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

"I'll be acknowledging the importance of the presentation of the president and using the opportunity as chair of our parliament to call on the Duma to recognise it has a responsibility. There are 450 members of the Duma, they can't all believe the propaganda, lies and fake news presented to them. I'll be calling on them to find the courage the Ukrainian people are finding on a daily basis and to stand up and be counted," he said.

The Russian embassy did not respond to a query on whether Mr Filatov would be attending the event.

Following the model used in other parliaments, the address to the Houses of the Oireachtas is due to take about 10 minutes, Mr O Fearghaíl said. Each leader of the larger parties will be allowed a six-minute contribution and smaller groups will be allotted three minutes afterwards, before the proceedings are wrapped up by the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Mark Daly.

It comes as local authorities prepare to launch community response forums in each of their areas to co-ordinate responses to the Ukrainian refugee crisis on the ground. Minister for Rural and Community Affairs Heather Humphreys and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien welcomed the move.

The groups are to provide co-ordination points for the community and voluntary responses in their area, and are modelled on the Covid-19 community call initiative. Ms Humphreys said the approach at local level is a “key part of our overall efforts and will be so important in the weeks and months to come”. Mr O’Brien said local authorities were stepping up “to lead the local response to what is a very complex and rapidly evolving situation”.