Pressure was growing on Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to expel the Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov on Saturday after a significant bloc of Government TDs and senators signed a petition to that effect.
The move followed days of pressure from all sides of the Oireachtas in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Mr Coveney has said European Union ministers have agreed not to expel Russian ambassadors at this point, but also said this and other options “remain on the table”.
On Saturday, a bloc of Fianna Fáil politicians signed a petition in support of having the ambassador expelled.
“In response to the unlawful invasion of Ukraine by president Putin, and to show Ireland’s support for Ukraine’s government and people, we the undersigned backbench Fianna Fáil TDs and senators call upon the Irish Government to expel the Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Anatoliyevich Filatov,” it read.
It was signed by TDs Jim O’Callaghan, Niamh Smyth, John Lahart, Pail McAuliffe, Chris O’Sullivan, Michael Moynihan, Paidi O’Sullivan, Jennifer Murnane-O’Connor, John McGuinness, Sean Haughey, Cormac Devlin, Jackie Cahill, James Lawless, Willie O’Dea, Cathal Crowe, Joe Flaherty, Brendan Smith, and Barry Cowen.
They were joined on the petition by senators Timmy Dooley, Lisa Chambers, Erin McGreehan, Denis O’Donovan, Paul Daly, Robbie Gallagher, Diarmiud Wilson, Ollie Crowe, Fiona O’Loughlin, Lorraine Clifford-Lee, Niall Blaney, Ned O’Sullivan, and Gerry Horkan. MEP Billy Kelleher also signed it.
Previously, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald called for expulsion of Mr Filatov. She said “significantly strengthened” sanctions are needed against Russian over the invasion of Ukraine.
Labour Party spokesman on foreign affairs Brendan Howlin said the Republic should “seek a co-ordinated EU and like-minded countries’ response” by expelling Russian ambassadors.
Several senior Labour Party members called for his expulsion at a protest at the Russian Embassy in Dublin on Saturday.
Mr Coveney has confirmed that since leaving Ukraine, Ireland’s diplomatic team has been operating the Kyiv Embassy remotely from Dublin.