Russian Ambassador to Ireland will not attend Zelenskiy speech

Yuriy Filatov was invited to Oireachtas sitting on Wednesday morning

The Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov has not acceoted the invitation to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s address by video link to a joint Oireachtas sitting on Wednesday.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl invited all of the diplomatic representations based in Ireland to the event.

The Oireachtas said on Monday night 45 missions had indicated that their diplomats would attend Leinster House for the occasion but the Russian Embassy was not one of them.

It means Mr Filatov will not be present in the Dáil chamber to hear the speech from the Ukrainian president.


Under Oireachtas protocol, all accredited ambassadors to Ireland are invited to sit in the public gallery during the event. Mr Ó Fearghaíl confirmed at the weekend the invitation was sent to Mr Filatov under that protocol.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl has said all of the diplomatic corps have been included and it was a matter for each ambassador to decide if they attended or not.

He added 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 he planned to call on Russian parliamentarians to take a stand on their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The invitation to Mr Filatov had caused anger among TDs from all parties. On Monday evening, moves began for a cross-party campaign to withdraw the Russian ambassador’s invitation.

Sinn Féin whip Pádraig Mac Lochlainn wrote to the whips of all other parties and groupings in the Dáil - including Government parties - asking them to support the withdrawal of the invitation to Mr Filatov.

Mr Mac Lochlainn told The Irish Times earlier on Monday he had written to his counterparts in all other parties and groupings seeking to have the invitation rescinded.

“I will be looking to get our colleagues in other parties and groupings to help build support for this effort.

“I have sent an email to all whips looking for agreement that the protocol be waived on this occasion and the Russian ambassador not be invited,” he said.

“I do not think it is appropriate at all that the ambassador attend. I am hopeful that we will get political agreement from Government and opposition parties to withdraw the invitation,” he said.

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.

As 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”.

On Monday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he disagreed with calls to expel Mr Filatov, arguing that it was very important to keep diplomatic channels open during a time of war.

Sinn Féin is one of a number of parties which have called for the ambassador’s expulsion. Four Russian diplomats attached to the embassy in Dublin were expelled last week. On Monday, Labour leader Ivana Bacik called for more stringent sanctions against Russia in light of allegations of war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in the town of Bucha.

“The emerging reports about the carrying out of war crimes in Bucha, Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities now show the need for an escalation in our collective response,” she said.

“While we welcomed the expulsion of diplomatic staff from the Russian embassy last week, it’s clear that greater sanctions are needed. Ireland must continue to show its strong adherence to international law and human rights by moving fast to ban oil and gas imports from Russia.”

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times