Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue has said Ireland should renew the visa of Russia’s embattled Ambassador Yury Filatov.
Filatov is currently one of the most loathed men in Ireland; Gardaí have been forced to spend €100,000 providing his embassy with round the clock protection and last month Filatov had to beg the Irish Government for help when suppliers declined to sell it fuel.
After war broke out, the Chairman of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, Charlie Flanagan said the state should expel him:
“He lied through his teeth about the imminent invasion,” Deputy Flanagan told The Anton Savage Show.
“I think he should go.
“However, I understand that at Government level and at EU level this is something that is being discussed and people are looking to have these areas on an EU coordinated level.”
No co-ordinated EU-wide action has been taken to expel Russian diplomats and Minister Donohue says that there are important reasons why the ambassador should be allowed to stay on in Ireland:
“We should keep him,” Minister Donohue told The Pat Kenny Show.
“And I know this is a difficult argument to make and the reason we should keep him is that even in such appalling circumstances as we are now in, countries do need to talk to each other."
“Irish people are still there. They need support. They need diplomatic representation. They could need our help at some point in the future and that’s why I want Irish diplomats in Russia.
“I want Irish diplomatic staff who can be of help to Irish people and if I’m willing to acknowledge that, then I also have to acknowledge that quid pro quo, despite the frustration… is that an Ambassador does have the right to be here in Ireland.”
He added that we could turn down Filatov’s application and expect a different ambassador was “quite an assumption” and that in all likelihood Ireland would end with no Russian diplomatic presence.
In 2018 Ireland and numerous other western countries expelled several Russian diplomats following the Kremlin’s attempted assassination of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English town of Salisbury.
"The use of chemical weapons, including the use of toxic chemicals as weapons, by anyone anywhere is particularly loathsome and reprehensible,” then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
"And the attack in Salisbury was not just an attack on the United Kingdom, but an affront to the international rules based order, on which we all depend for our security and well-being".
Filatov decried the expulsions as "unwarranted, uncalled for, senseless and regrettable" and accused the British Government of lying about the Salisbury poisonings.
Main image: The Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov holds a media briefing on the situation in Syria at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Dublin.