Taoiseach says Putin an ‘evil dictator’ committing ‘shocking war crimes’

Leo Varadkar tells FG parliamentary party Ukraine invasion has ‘changed our world’

The Taoiseach has described Russian president Vladimir Putin as an “evil dictator” who is committing “shocking war crimes” in Ukraine.

Micheál Martin made the remarks at Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday, where he also said there will be “no hiding place” for Russian oligarch’s money in Ireland.

Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators were addressed by Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko and her embassy’s charge d’affairs Olena Shaloput.

Ms Gerasko spoke of the impact of the Russian invasion on her country and the loss of life among civilians.

Mr Martin outlined the importance of a common European response to the “barbaric attack” on Ukraine. He said Ireland has advocated for the “widest sanctions possible”.

The Taoiseach outlined how a Cabinet sub-committee of Ministers is scheduled to meet on Thursday to co-ordinate on the humanitarian response to the crisis.

He said that at European Union level Ireland will “ fully support” proposals to ensure that Ukrainian refugees have the right to live, work, access education and healthcare in the EU, initially for one year but also for up to three years.

Mr Martin told the meeting that Europe must show resilience as it faces the consequences of the actions of Mr Putin who he described as an “evil dictator”. He said Mr Putin is “committing shocking war crimes on Ukrainian people.”

Alumina plant

Sources said the Ukrainian delegation mentioned the Russian-owned Aughinish Alumina plant in Co Limerick - which has not been included in sanctions - as part of their long contribution.

Mr Martin is said to have spoken in general terms on the need for sanctions to hit Russia and its economy and a source said there was no detailed discussion on the matter at the meeting.

At Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Russian invasion has “changed our world”. He said Ukrainians were “fighting for their independence, democracy, personal liberties and were an inspiration to all”.

He warned the war could become even more violent and difficult in weeks to come and the meeting was told that Russian diplomatic expulsions from Dublin are being considered.

Mr Varadkar said he understood calls for the ambassador’s expulsion but cautioned this could result in the Irish embassy in Moscow being closed to the detriment of 60 Irish students and hundreds of Irish citizens in the country.

Separately, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that 156,000 passport applications were made in February - 20,000 more than January.

Of those, 70,000 applications did not have correct supporting documentation. Another 72,000 were adult renewals with turnarounds achieved within 48 hours for 35,000.

Mr Coveney said processing times were coming down but it was still not where it needed to be.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

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