THE Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuri Filatov should be sent home, Senator Timmy Dooley believes, having been part of a campaign of misinformation in the build-up to his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I’m very slow to say things like that, I’m not given to that kind of carry-on, calling for people to be expelled, but I just think it has reached a threshold beyond which general diplomacy isn’t relevant. He has told lies all the way through. What purpose does it serve any of us having an actor in place who is not telling the truth?
“We’ve often had countries like that, but the ambassador would shut his mouth, he’d stay back from the front line and would remain behind the scenes and act as a back channel to the jurisdiction.
“Of course they’d represent their country, but if they couldn’t tell you the truth they’d say nothing. This fella’s actions and his utterances were absolutely part of the campaign of misinformation.
“What’s the purpose, what’s the point in having diplomatic links with someone who’s just leading you astray? It’s part of a wider thing, I think there should be a wider decision EU wide saying right lads, until further notice ye’re out.”
There are significant concerns about Russian espionage in Ireland, particularly as the scale of activity at the embassy in Dublin is way out of line with the small Russian population here.
“It’s a thing of last resort that a country does, to send the ambassador home in relation to a particular incident. I think the magnitude of what has happened here is nearly lost on some countries.”
“The speed at which it has happened, the fact it wasn’t expected to happen, notwithstanding the build up of troops there was that misinformation all the way.
“There was a feeling that maybe they’d put troops into that area on the eastern boundary but no one believed that they would carry out a full assault on a country of such a size with such an independent status and a fully functioning democratic system in place,” Deputy Dooley added.
On Monday Deputy Dooley co-chaired a meeting of the ALDE party (the grouping which Fianna Fáil is affiliated with at EU level, which granted temporary affiliate status to Servant of the People, the political party founded by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“ALDE is the third biggest party in Europe and I happen to be the co-president of that at the moment. They had applied to join ALDE some time ago and we were due to go there in April, go to
Kyiv and meet him and his party.
“Obviously events have overshot that, so we held an online meeting on Monday, a few of us in Brussels, and the rest of the party people scattered around the different locations.
“He wasn’t on, one of his MPs was on, she actually had to leave in the middle of it because there was an air raid siren that went off and she had to go to a bunker.
“All of the other parties agreed to give them temporary status and it has to be confirmed at our next Ard Fheis for want of a better word, it’s called a congress and it’s in Dublin in June, it’ll be confirmed in June.”
Senator Dooley is organising a coffee morning in support of the Irish Red Cross Ukrainian Appeal on Friday morning from 10am to 12noon at the Old Ground Hotel, with the proprietors giving all proceeds from the hotel bar and the Town Hall restaurant to the Irish Red Cross Ukraine appeal.
The Irish Red Cross is currently taking donations that will be used to help their teams on the ground aiding displaced people with life-saving food and hygiene needs, supporting health facilities and repairing vital infrastructure.