Ireland to expel one Russian diplomat
Sir, – It is striking that the attempted murder by poisoning of two targeted people in Salisbury, as well as a police officer, has instigated such a well co-ordinated international response (Ireland to expel Russian diplomat over Salisbury attack, irishtimes.com, March 27th).
This contrasts sharply with the lack of effective action in dealing with the Russia-backed war in Syria where close to 500,000 people have been killed since 2011, with millions more men, women and children fleeing to seek impoverished sanctuary and dependence on aid in Lebanon, Jordan and other neighbouring countries, as well risking their lives in boats to get to Europe and elsewhere.
Against formidable odds, Syrian footballers have tried to keep their national soccer team competitive, but it would appear the political football is being played elsewhere. – Yours, etc,
Rathmines, Dublin 6.
Sir, – Ireland has been committed to co-ordinating its foreign policy with other European states, to some extent, since it joined the EEC in 1973 and accepted the European Political Co-operation (EPC) framework – later developing into the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Standing with our allies against a rogue state like Russia is a fundamental aspect of EU membership and the Government should be commended for taking such a stance. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Government has just expelled a Russian diplomat! While I have every sympathy with the people of Salisbury who saw nerve agents being unleashed on their streets, it is not our fight.
The UK say it is “highly likely” that Russia is responsible. That is not the same as “beyond all reasonable doubt” which is the requirement in terms of the burden of proof when a crime is committed and the alleged perpetrator is being tried in court. Just ask Tony Blair!
That issue aside, we also need to question whether this is actually our fight and would the UK give us the same consideration if the shoe was on the other foot.
The Brexit vote and its total lack of thought, discourse and subsequent dismissal of the Irish Border question would suggest not. From today Ireland is no longer a neutral country. Our neutrality has evaporated. (We were already on shaky ground with the use of Shannon Airport for US military flights.)
The Taoiseach should be pushing Ireland to be the voice of reason within the EU: the one who challenges and plays the devil’s advocate rather than joining the chorus of war mongering that will lead to a tit-for-tat Cold War or worse. Are we ready for the consequences? A sad day for Ireland! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The assertion that there is something sinister behind the “disproportionatelly large” numbers of staff in the embassy of the Russian Federation in Ireland compared with that of the Irish Embassy in Moscow does not stand up to a basic fact check (“Ireland not among 14 EU States expelling Russian diplomats” March 26th).
A long time ago I studied Russian and occasionally go to Russia on my holidays. In the past 15 years, the small room of the Russian embassy’s consular office has gone from being empty to being constantly packed with a wide array of people in Ireland who need their assistance.
The article states that there are “few” Russians living in Ireland. There are thousands of Russians living in Ireland.
Also, the article does not take into account that the embassy of the Russian Federation does not just provide consular assistance to Russians, but also to citizens of Belorussia and the many citizens of the former Soviet Union living in Ireland. On my last visit, I sat beside a Chechen refugee whose new husband, an undocumented Moldovan, was applying for a Russian passport, which was his entitlement as a citizen of the former Soviet Union.
The other people there consisted of former Soviet citizens and asylum seekers in Ireland applying for Russian passports for their children and visas to go home and visit their relatives. Among the Irish there that day were a TV travel presenter, Irish holiday-makers applying for visas, two motorbike couriers picking up visas for Irish businessmen and a woman who had adopted a Russian baby who was applying for a Russian passport for her now three-year old girl.
How many Irish citizens have claimed refugee status in Russia? How many former Irish citizens need to go to the Irish embassy in Moscow for visas home and Irish passports for their children? How many Irish babies are adopted by Russian parents? What is the population of Ireland in comparison to that of Russia? – Yours, etc,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
Sir, – Most people who follow these things can see that the present controversy over the alleged poisoning of two Russian ex-spies in the UK will pass over in a few months. That the storm will die down. However, for Ireland it might not. To expel a Russian diplomat from the country at this moment, without any substantial evidence of official Russian involvement in the incident, is not a good move and is a further erosion of what’s left of our neutrality.
The controversy is just an exercise in sabre-rattling by an embattled British government trying to prove to the EU and the world that they still count in today’s post-Brexit geopolitical environment.
An isolated Britain in today’s connected world is too much for them to contemplate.
Back to Ireland: consider the irony of the Irish government expelling Russian diplomats (Russia is a country that has never harmed us) on flimsy evidence, kowtowing to our British and EU masters, while there is more than ample evidence of Irish citizens being murdered in Belfast, Derry, Gibraltar and elsewhere by British state forces without any justified diplomatic repercussions. A case of pax Britannia? – Yours, etc,