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File photo of US soldiers firing a Javelin anti-tank missile. Alamy

TD calls for Ireland to provide anti-tank weapons to Ukraine

Cathal Berry argued that the public mood has “utterly changed” in the past 48 hours.

A FORMER ARMY ranger and TD has called for Ireland to consider sending weapons to Ukraine to assist in the country’s military defence against an ongoing Russian invasion.

Cathal Berry highlighted that Ireland has stockpiles of anti-armour weaponry to be used against tanks and other vehicles that could be easily transferred to the Ukrainian military.

Speaking to The Journal, he said the equipment could be quickly replaced and noted that the Department of Defence recently handed back a budget underspend.

The suggestion would represent a move away from Ireland’s traditional focus on neutrality and remaining militarily non-aligned, and has instead opted for non-lethal support such as humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.

Hundreds of troops on both sides have so far been killed in the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s health minister said earlier today that 198 civilians have so far been killed, including three children, and 1,115 injured.

Berry argued that the public mood has “utterly changed” in the past 48 hours.

“If people are happy to see 40 million people being slaughtered and do nothing about it, then we shouldn’t, but if you want to do something about it, we should help a fellow neutral country to protect themselves.”

We put the likes of Finland and Sweden on a pedestal as being great societies, we want to emulate them – they have no problem handing over lethal weapons.

He added that non-lethal assistance such as body armour could also be provided, which could be useful for humanitarian organisations working on the ground, but that soft power moves by Ireland would have little impact at this stage of the conflict.

The weapons suggested include two anti-armour systems: the sophisticated Javelin anti-tank guided missile system, of which Ireland has ‘a few dozen’ of and that Ukrainian troops have received extensive training from Western countries in their use, and the more basic, easy-to-use and disposable AT-4 anti-tank weapon, dubbed SRAAW by the Irish Defence Forces.

Berry highlighted that US waiver on the Javelin license agreement may be required to facilitate export of the missiles, which cost in excess of €150,000 each.

Sky News reports that the United Kingdom will support the logistics around delivering any donated weapons to Ukraine.

Several European countries have agreed to provide further military aid.

The Czech Republic is donating machine guns, automatic and sniper rifles, pistols and ammunition valued at €7.6 million euros to Ukraine, the defence minister said.

And Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said France has also agreed to send more weapons and equipment.

The Irish Anti-War Movement has previously argued that Ireland shouldn’t add to the aggression being witnessed in Ukraine.

Speaking at a demonstration on Thursday, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said:

We are saying very clearly that we must condemn and oppose the inexcusable and barbaric attack by Putin and Russia on Ukraine.
But we are also saying in that opposing that war, we must not line up with Nato, with the big western powers who have expanded Nato eastwards, who are encouraging the European Union to get involved in the Nato military alliance.

In a statement, the Department of Defence said:

The commitment made by the Irish Government is €10 million in humanitarian support.
Ireland also supports the current sanction regime, and The Statutory Instrument for removing the visa requirement for Ukraine nationals as an emergency measure.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said that the package will “support Ireland’s humanitarian partners on the ground – including the UN and civil society organisations – in providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to those affected by this conflict”.

“Ireland is also providing medical supplies in response to Ukraine’s request for in-kind support,” the DFA spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s backbench Oireachtas members have signed a petition seeking the expulsion of the Russian ambassador Yury Filatov. 

The 32 TDs and senators have made the demand as a show of support for Ukraine in response to the “unlawful invasion by President Putin”.

The list includes Jim O’Callaghan, Willie O’Dea and Barry Cowen. 

Additional reporting by AFP, the Press Association and Eoghan Dalton

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