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Friday 2 June 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Shutterstock/Corey Macri File image of an area on the Cork coast.
# military exercises
Minister of State 'deeply concerned' about marine impacts of Russian military exercises
Malcolm Noonan said he has written to the Foreign Affairs Minister and the Russian Ambassador to Ireland to express his concerns.

THE MINISTER OF State for Heritage said he is “deeply concerned” about the potential impacts for marine wildlife caused by Russian military exercises planned around 240km off the Irish coast. 

Malcolm Noonan said he has written to the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and the Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov to express these concerns. 

The Journal reported on Saturday that the Irish government had received a warning of a major exercise by the Russian navy and air force in the Atlantic off the south west coast planned for the first week of February.

Minister Noonan said underwater sounds such as active military sonar “can have devastating consequences for cetaceans including some of our rarest marine mammal species, notably the deep-diving and rarely-seen Blue whale, Sperm whale and beaked whales”.

“It can cause significant disruption to their hearing systems and normal behaviour, and may lead to permanent or even lethal injury,” he said in a statement. 

The Russian Ambassador to Ireland yesterday downplayed concerns about the planned missile tests in international waters off the Irish coast. 

Yury Filatov said it is a “non-story” and that there are “no grounds for concern” for Ireland in relation to the exercises. 

“It’s a small exercise actually – maybe three or four ships, not more. There is nothing really to be disturbed, concerned or anguished about and I have extensively explained that to our Irish colleagues,” he said. 

Simon Coveney said the military exercises are “not welcome” but that Ireland does not have the power to stop them as they are held in international waters. 

“This isn’t a time to increase military activity and tension in the context of what’s happening with and in Ukraine at the moment. And so I think it’s important that I would brief my colleagues on those intentions,” the minister said yesterday.

Fishermen at the South & West Fish Producers Organisation based in Cork said they are planning a “peaceful protest” to try and disrupt the military exercises. 

CEO of the organisation Patrick Murphy said the group is also concerned about any potential disruptions and damage to marine life. 

Murphy said fishermen are discussing a plan to fish in an area near the proposed area of the military exercises when they are taking place.

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