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The Russian Embassy in Rathgar, south Dublin Alamy Stock Photo
Russian Embassy

Russian embassy's 'chilling' comments on Finbar Cafferkey death slammed by TDs

The embassy said statements by the Tánaiste could be seen as encouraging Irish people to fight in Ukraine, which would make Ireland a ‘direct participant of the conflict’.

RUSSIA’S EMBASSY IN Ireland has warned of potential “ensuing consequences” after the Tánaiste paid tribute to Irishman Finbar Cafferkey who was killed while fighting in Ukraine.

A statement released by the embassy yesterday has been condemned by several TDs including former foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan, as well as being challenged by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Finbar Cafferkey, who was in his 40s and from Achill Island, was killed fighting Russian forces in eastern Ukraine earlier this week.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin expressed his sympathies in the Dáil to Cafferkey’s family yesterday, saying that he “obviously a young man of clear principles”.

A statement issued last night by the Russian Embassy in Dublin criticised Martin’s comments and said that they could be seen as making Ireland a “direct participant in the conflict”.

“In a very big way it is the Irish Government and media to who bear responsibility for the death of Finbar Cafferkey” the statement read.

“It has been the Government and media who have been promoting anti-Russian propaganda, distorting the truth about the conflict in Ukraine, misleading people like Finbar Cafferkey. Now they face the results of their own efforts.”

“We also do not know if Mr. Martin’s remarks signify support for the Irish to take part in combat in Ukraine, but we do know that if that is the case, then Ireland would be the direct participant of the conflict with all the ensuing consequences.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs has responded to the embassy’s statement, referring to it as “disinformation”.

“The Government’s position in respect of Russia’s brutal and illegal aggression against Ukraine is crystal clear. Ukraine has a right to defend this attack on its sovereignty and territorial integrity, in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter.”

“Ireland’s support for Ukraine is unwavering. Russian Disinformation will have no impact on this,” the Department stated.

The embassy’s remarks have come under fire from a number of TDs, some of whom called for Russian Ambassador Yuri Filatov to be expelled from the country.

Commenting on Twitter, former justice minister Charlie Flanagan said the statement was “threatening, intimidating and chilling”.

“These hostile remarks are unacceptable,” the chairman of the foreign affairs committee said, adding that it was “beyond time” that Filatov and “his crew were asked to leave our country”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said: “The Government’s view is that diplomatic channels between Ireland and the Russian Federation should remain open. This is in the interests of our own citizens, both in Russia itself and in the five central Asian republics to which Ireland is accredited via our Embassy in Moscow.” 

‘Independent thinker’

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, who knew Finbar Cafferkey, was among the TDs condemning the Russian embassy’s statement.

“I would take strong issue with the Russian ambassador, first of all, commenting on this. It’s none of his business, he should butt right out, and particularly while the family are in such distress,” she told RTÉ’s Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin this afternoon.

“Secondly, Finbar would have made up his own mind, he would not have been influenced by the Irish establishment and their views. He was a very independent thinker.”

Smith said that Filatov should apologise to Finbar Cafferkey’s family for involving him in the statement.

Sinn Féin TD for Galway West, Mairéad Farrell, echoed Smith’s sentiment and said that it was her party’s position that the Russian ambassador should be expelled.

“For the Russian ambassador to use his death in this kind of a way, is totally and utterly shocking, in my opinion.”

“When we hear those kind of callous comments that were made in relation to the death of Finbar, I think it’s beggars belief as to why the government haven’t gone down that route [of expulsion],” she said.

Fine Gael TD for Limerick City Kieran O’Donnell added that although he condemned the embassy’s statement and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he disagreed with Farrell and his party colleague Charlie Flanagan on the expulsion of the ambassador.

“We must maintain diplomatic relations with countries like Russia, even though we fundamentally disagree with what they’re doing in Ukraine, because we first and foremost must represent our citizens abroad.”

“We are militarily, a neutral country, we are not politically neutral. And we stand firmly behind Ukrainian people. They are entitled to defend their borders,” O’Donnell said.

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