Want to help Ukraine? Stop buying Russian fuel, says Eamon Ryan

Green Party leader says immediate challenge was providing safe sanctuary for refugees

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has said that Ireland needs to do more to assist Ukraine.

One of the best ways to do that would be to stop spending hundreds of millions of euro on Russian gas and oil, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Ireland will push for stronger sanctions “to put an end to the Putin regime” and one of the best ways to do that was to challenge the economic strength of Russia by stopping the sale of fuels such as gas and oil.

But any such action would have to be part of a united, collective European response, he said. While Ireland had other resources, some countries, especially those in Eastern Europe would find it more difficult.

“We have opened our doors (to refugees) and more will be coming”.

The immediate challenge was providing safe sanctuary for refugees and Ireland would be helping the countries which border Ukraine during this humanitarian crisis.

Freezing Russian assets was the right approach, he added. Ireland could not enforce a no fly zone and the countries that could were concerned that it would escalate the situation and they were not prepared to do that.

Mr Ryan said he would speak with the ambassadors to Ukraine and Poland about the difficulties being experienced by refugees with higher Ryanair fares. He said he had not been in touch with the airline as he wanted to speak to the ambassadors first. He and his department were “in constant touch” with Ryanair but had not yet communicated on this issue.

The number of Ukrainian refugees in Ireland has surpassed 10,000 and is likely to surpass 20,000 by the end of the month.

Freezing Russian assets was the right approach, said Mr Ryan. Ireland could not enforce a no fly zone and the countries that could were concerned that it would escalate the situation and they were not prepared to do that.

Mr Ryan will announce later on Monday plans to develop offshore wind farms in coastal waters around the coast of Ireland.

Six on the east coast and one on the west coast are in the design stages. The Department of Energy intends to issue maritime area consents for the planning applications to go ahead.

Applications are being taken for the first offshore wind farms with the goal of that wind being delivered within four years.

Mr Ryan anticipated that wind energy will generate 5 gigawatts of electricity by the end of the century. In subsequent decades that will rise to 50 gigawatts of electricity per annum.

“We are accelerating in any way we can. Not every project is likely to get planning, but most of them will,” he said.

Much of the wind energy will be turned into hydrogen which can be stored and used when the wind is not blowing, he added.

The situation in Ukraine made it a priority to become less dependent on foreign energy.

“In my mind our greatest energy security comes from relying on our own resources not on imports,” he said.