Deputy Thomas Pringle has again emphasised the importance of Irish neutrality, as he welcomed the Council of Europe vote to expel Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Deputy Pringle said: “When we see the aggression of one state imposed against another, we need only to stand with the state that has been attacked. This means standing firmly with the Ukrainian people and calling for an end to this terrible war and destruction.”
The deputy had been scheduled to attend the Council of Europe debate on Tuesday before testing positive for Covid-19 at the weekend.
The council’s parliamentary assembly voted on Tuesday to expel Russia, following an emergency session in Strasbourg. Russia had announced its intention to quit the council in advance of the vote.
Deputy Pringle said: “Nothing can justify such an appalling price being inflicted on the Ukrainian people by the Russian Federation. It stands against the legal and moral norms that should govern all states’ interaction with each other.
“I welcome the fact that the Russian Federation was resolutely condemned by the Council of Europe,” he said.
The deputy also said the consequences of the invasion can be felt in Ireland, “where certain political and media actors are using it as a stick to beat our neutrality with. As if ending our neutrality would help anyone from Ukraine in any way.
“In fact, because we are a neutral country, I believe we can more strongly support the call for peace and an end to the Russian invasion. We don’t have any of the NATO baggage that other members carry.”
He said actions of NATO and the EU will have to be looked at later, when examining the roots of the conflict.
Deputy Pringle said: “I have been heartened by the offers from Irish citizens, opening up their houses and their homes to people in need who have been fleeing the conflict. It has shown where Irish people’s concerns are – rightly with the people of Ukraine who have been displaced during this conflict.
“Indeed their concerns are also with the many people of other states who have been caught up in the conflict in Ukraine and who have been equally displaced from their homes.
“It is sad that the EU welcome for Ukrainians does not appear to be extended to all citizens who have been displaced by the conflict, unless they were already seeking asylum in Ukraine. That is not enough. And that is something that we as EU citizens need to address.
“Unfortunately, neither the Minister for Justice nor the Taoiseach appear to see this as a priority either, and that is also something that I believe we need to address,” he said.