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Tuesday 6 June 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Brian Lawless File image of Michael D Higgins and Sabina Coyne Higgins in 2019.
# russian invasion
FF senator calls on Michael D Higgins to express Irish support for Ukraine after Sabina letter
Sabina Higgins, in a letter to the Irish Times, called for both Ukraine and Russia to “agree to a ceasefire and negotiations”.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 30th 2022, 7:50 PM

A FIANNA FÁIL senator has called on Michael D Higgins to make a public statement to “express clearly” the Irish support for Ukraine following viewpoints in a letter by Sabina Higgins that the Russian Ambassador said “makes sense”. 

In a letter to the Irish Times on Wednesday, Sabina Higgins wrote that the war will continue “until the world persuades President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to agree to a ceasefire and negotiations”. 

Yuri Filatov, the Russian Ambassador to Ireland, said he agreed with the points made by Higgins in the letter.

In an interview with the Irish Times he said “we’re all against war” and that the suggestion of peace talks tallies with Russia’s position. 

A Ukrainian MP, however, called the letter “underinformed” and said “it is not enough for one side to want peace – it needs to be mutual”.

Kira Rudik told Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder programme yesterday: “When you look at the way how Russia behaved for the last eight years – when you look at the last five and a half months – you would understand that there is no way of peaceful negotiations.”

“These talks are extremely dangerous – because basically what is written in the letter is ‘let’s make peace’ – so we will allow [the] bully, allow aggressive country get away with what they have done,” she said. 

Fine Gael senator John McGahon tweeted a screenshot of the letter posted on the presidential website. It has since been removed but McGahon said it was “inappropriate” for the letter to be published on the website.

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne said Michael D Higgins should issue a public statement “outlining Ireland’s strong continued support for Ukraine and opposition to the brutality of Vladimir Putin”. 

“Mrs Higgins is entitled to her personal opinion and to express it, although I believe that she is totally wrong to try to see an equivalence in the positions of Ukraine and Russia,” Byrne said. 

“However, the decision to publish the letter on the President’s website raises serious questions.

“It is incumbent on the President of Ireland to now express clearly the strong support of the people of Ireland for the people of Ukraine and that we hold Russia responsible for the war and ongoing barbarism.” 

Peace talks facilitated between Russia and Ukraine were suspended earlier this year with Ukraine blaming Moscow for failing to find areas for compromise.

Mykhaylo Podolyak, a presidential aide in Ukraine, said in May: “The strategic objective of the Russians is: all or nothing.”

The Journal has contacted Áras an Uachtaráin for comment.

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