Russia summons Irish ambassador in Moscow over truck incident at Dublin embassy

Varadkar criticises ‘foolish and unhelpful’ ramming of Russian Embassy gates

Russia has summoned Ireland's ambassador in Moscow over the ramming of a truck into the gates of its embassy in Dublin, seeking an official apology and the cost of repairs.

Irish diplomat Brian McElduff was called to Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday where Kremlin officials complained over a truck reversing through the gates at its embassy in Rathgar.

Russia’s state-owned news outlet Tass reported that the Russian foreign ministry issued a “strong protest in connection with an incident with a security breach” at the embassy.

The ministry referred to what it describe "the inadmissibility of 'blatant inaction of law enforcement agencies in Ireland when such actions are committed in the presence of policemen'".

READ MORE

“We demanded from the Irish authorities to issue [SIC] an official apology for what happened and full compensation for the damage caused,” said the ministry, according to the Tass report.

“We also expect the authorities of this country to conduct an objective investigation and punish those responsible.”

Lorry driver Desmond Wisley (49) appeared in court in Dublin on Tuesday charged with criminal damage and dangerous driving in connection with the crash.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Russian embassy accused the Government of violating international law for allowing it to take place. The embassy claimed members of the Garda “stood idle” as the truck reversed into the gates.

The embassy later said in a follow-up statement that additional measures had been taken by the Garda to ensure the safety and security of the embassy and its personnel.

“The embassy appreciates cooperation by the Irish authorities in this matter,” it said.

Speaking on a visit to the UN in New York, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney confirmed the Irish ambassador in Moscow met Russian foreign ministry officials over the incident.

Mr Coveney described the incident as "unfortunate and unhelpful," echoing similar comments by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar who called it "foolish and unhelpful."

“It will be used by some in an unhelpful way. But we are addressing that and we have and continue to speak to the Russian embassy about it,” Mr Coveney said.

Mr Varadkar said that the truck incident could be “misrepresented in Russian state TV as Irish people involved in violent acts against Russians”.

“It may be the case that the person behind it had strong feelings on this issue, but it was not helpful at all because we have obligations under the Vienna Convention to protect diplomats that are here in Ireland. So it was a foolish and unhelpful act in that regard.”

While people were entitled to protest, such protests should be peaceful with “no violence” and “no criminal damage.”

Government sources denied that there was an angry exchange between Mr McElduff and Russian foreign ministry officials at the meeting over the truck incident at the embassy.

“A strong diplomatic protest was lodged,” said one source in Dublin.

Asked about the ambassador’s meeting in Moscow, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it did not comment on security issues or incidents.

"As is normal, the department remains in regular contact with the Russian Embassy in Dublin on a range of issues and the same is the case in respect of our embassy in Moscow and the Russian Foreign Ministry," she said.

In a tweet posted on Tuesday afternoon, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had summoned Mr McElduff, the ambassador, and “demanded an official apology from the Irish leadership”.

The account said Mr McElduff was “strongly protested in connection with the security incident,” according to a translation of its post generated by Twitter.

On Monday evening security barriers were erected to create a buffer between the embassy and protesters.

The incident comes days after Russian ambassador Yury Filatov told Russian TV the situation in Ireland was “frankly difficult”.

He accused Ireland of being to the forefront of "anti-Russian events" in the European Union.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times