People Before Profit/Solidarity TDs have defended a decision not to applaud following Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy's address to the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Footage from the Dáil chamber showed Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett, Gino Kenny and Bríd Smith standing after the speech but not applauding with the other TDs and Senators present.
Mr Murphy later said he and Mr Boyd Barrett had "stood for the people of Ukraine and stand with them in the struggle against the Russian imperialist invasion".
However, he added: “We can’t applaud calls for more sanctions which are hurting ordinary Russians and only bolstering the Putin regime at home.”
Mr Murphy also criticised steps taken by Mr Zelenskiy’s government in domestic politics, particularly the banning of “opposition parties with almost 20 per cent of the vote”, which was a “worrying attack” on democratic rights.
Mr Murphy said that he and Mr Boyd Barrett had also not applauded Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s declaration of support for Ukrainian membership of the EU, which was a matter for the Ukrainian people to decide.
Ms Smith said the group “stood in solidarity and respect” for the Ukrainian people, their president and the “war crimes they are suffering at the hands of Putin”. She said they disagreed with calls made previously for Nato involvement in the war, which could “escalate an already dangerous situation”.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney later said the group’s decision did not “reflect the views of the vast, vast majority of our people”.
“The idea that you wouldn’t stand and applaud his courage, his bravery, his leadership, but also out of respect for what his country is going through, to my mind, is extraordinary,” he said.
Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan said it was a “source of terrible embarrassment” to be in a chamber where members had refused to clap. He accused the People Before Profit TDs members of a “warped ideology” in seeking to support the country Ukraine but not its leader. He accused them of bringing shame on the House and asked them to apologise.
Meanwhile, Donegal Independent TD Thomas Pringle said he clapped initially out of solidarity with the Ukrainian people but then stopped because he was concerned about what he described as the “talking up” of NATO and what he felt were attacks on Irish neutrality.
Video from the Dáil shows Independent TDs Catherine Connolly and Joan Collins not clapping, although it is thought they adopted a similar approach to that of Mr Pringle.
Ms Collins and Ms Connolly did not initially respond to queries on Wednesday.
Following Mr Zelenskiy's address, several Government TDs applauded Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald's call to eject the Russian ambassador, Yuriy Filatov, from the State.
Fianna Fáil TDs Niamh Smyth, John Lahart, John McGuinness, Pádraig O'Sullivan and Paul McAuliffe applauded the call, as did Fine Gael's Brendan Griffin and Neale Richmond.
The Taoiseach has previously said such a move could damage diplomatic channels to protect Irish citizens in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere.