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Irish ambassador in Moscow summoned over Russian Embassy crash as Varadkar labels it 'foolish and unhelpful'

The Russian foreign ministry wants an apology and compensation.

LAST UPDATE | 8 Mar 2022

THE IRISH AMBASSADOR to Russia has been summoned to Moscow’s foreign ministry  following an incident at the Russian embassy yesterday. 

Ambassador Brian McAlduff was summoned to the Russian capital after a truck was driven through the gates of the embassy. 

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Russian Embassy accused gardaí of standing “idle” as the incident took place. A man was subsequently arrested following the incident. 

The Embassy has also accused Ireland of breaching the Vienna Convention by not protecting the premises from any damage.

“A large truck came over to the gates of the Embassy, pulled back and torn down the gates of the Embassy. The incident took place in the presence of Garda officers, who stood idle.

“The embassy strongly condemns this criminal act of insanity directed against peaceful diplomatic mission.”

This morning, the Russian foreign ministry has summoned McAlduff over the incident. The ministry also wants an apology and compensation. 

“On March 8, the Irish Ambassador to Moscow, B. Macalduff, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The ambassador was strongly protested in connection with an incident with a security breach of the Russian Embassy in Dublin, during which a truck rammed the entrance gate of the Russian diplomatic mission,” the message published on the website of the Russian diplomatic mission reads.

The statement hit out at the “blatant inaction of law enforcement agencies in Ireland, when such actions are committed in the presence of policemen.” 

“We demand from the leadership of Ireland an official apology for what happened and full compensation for the damage caused. We also expect the authorities of this country to conduct an objective investigation and punish those responsible,” the ministry added.

Speaking about yesterday’s incident, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar labelled it as “foolish and unhelpful”.

“We’ve obligations under the Vienna Convention to protect diplomats who are here in Ireland, and also that will now be misrepresented in Russian state TV as Irish people being involved in violent acts against Russians,” he said.

So, it was a foolish and unhelpful act in that regard, and I would say to anyone being involved in the protests, please do protest, we want you to do that, but peaceful protests – no violence, no criminal damage.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris rejected a claim by the Russian authorities that gardai stood “idle” while the vehicle reversed through the gates.

“Where there’s been other incidents as well, individuals are now in the criminal justice system,” he said,

“We’ve made detections in all of those instances, so to say we were standing idly by is not correct.”

In the aftermath of the incident, gardaí erected a barrier between protesters and the embassy. 

Asked about the cost of the beefed-up security, Harris said: “We have a responsibility obviously to protect all the ambassadors and embassies here in Ireland as part of our function as a policing service and so, in effect, these costs are met by our overall budget and our responsibility that we have.

“And so with the security arrangements at the Russian embassy they will be regularly assessed.”

A further statement issued yesterday evening by the Russian Embassy said that “additional measures have been undertaken by the Garda to ensure safety and security of the Embassy and its personnel.”

“The Embassy appreciates cooperation by the Irish authorities in this matter.”

- With reporting by Press Association

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