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Mary Lou McDonald was applauded by Ukrainian representatives following her remarks. Oireachtas
Yuriy Filatov

Sinn Féin's McDonald calls for expulsion of Russian ambassador following Zelenskyy Dáil address

Mary Lou McDonald labelled Russian ambassador Yuriy Filatov an “unapologetic propagandist”.

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has called for the expulsion of Russia’s Ambassador to Ireland in her response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to both houses of the Oireachtas today.

Addressing the Dáil chamber shortly after Zelenskyy’s speech, McDonald said Russia’s embassy in Ireland and and Ambassador Yuriy Filatov have acted as “unwavering and unapologetic propagandists for his country’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.” 

Noting Russia’s efforts to claim that evidence of atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine were fabricated, McDonald said “the Russian ambassador wants us to ignore the evidence before our very eyes.”

“Mr Filatov we have heard the accounts of murders carried out by your soldiers reported from numerous credible sources. We have seen the aerial photographs of human remains left scattered by the side of the road.

“We have seen the cars carrying white flags, to indicate civilian passengers, riddled with shrapnel. The evidence of such atrocities condemns Russia before the world and the world will not turn a blind eye.

It is, Ceann Comhairle, long past time for Ambassador Filatov to be expelled from Ireland.

McDonald’s remarks were met with applause from Ukraine’s Ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko and members of the Ukrainian delegation who were in the chamber for Zelenskyy’s address.

It was also applauded by several backbench government TDs including Fianna Fáil’s Paul McAuliffe, John Lahart and John McGuinness and Fine Gael’s Brendan Griffin, all of whom have previously called for Filatov to be expelled from Ireland.

Throughout Russia’s invasion, the Government has held firm to a wider European Union strategy of keeping ambassadors in place, saying it will act in concert with the EU in deciding on expulsions.

On several occasion Taoiseach Micheál Martin has stressed the importance of maintaining diplomatic links, saying cutting ties was “the last resort”.

McDonald noted that yesterday Lithuania became the first European Union state to expel its Russian Ambassador.

“They did this as an action to uphold human rights to uphold justice. I commend them for it and I believe our country should follow suit.

“I believe this would be a most powerful action, as a military neutral non-aligned state, as we too stand for human rights and justice and I call on the Taoiseach and the Government to act now,” McDonald said.

Sanctions

In his historic address to the Dáil and the Seanad, Zelenskyy said Ireland has supported Ukraine from the first days of the war.

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He accused Russia of deliberately trying create a global food crisis and also urged the Government to try and convince other EU nations to introduce tougher sanctions against Russia in order to stop funding its war machine.

Responding to the Ukrainian leader, the Taoiseach said Ireland supports further sanctions against Russia.

“We need a sanctions regime that brings it home to Putin and his regime that he will not, he cannot, succeed. And we want the strongest possible sanctions against the Russian Federation and we will pursue those,” Micheál Martin said.

The Taoiseach also reiterated Ireland’s support for Ukraine in its application to join the EU.

Addressing the Putin regime, Martin said ”Russia will have to live with the shame of what they have done in Ukraine for generations. Those responsible will be held to account.

We are with Ukraine and I am certain that, in the end, Ukraine will prevail. 

“We are a militarily neutral country. However, we are not politically neutral in the face of war crimes. Quite the opposite.

“Our position is informed by the principles that drive our foreign policy – support for international human rights, for humanitarian law and for a rules-based international order.

“We are not neutral when Russia disregards all of these principles. We are with Ukraine,” Martin said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar thanked Zelenskyy for his address, saying the Ukrainian leader has “moved us, inspired us and shamed us, and the rest of the world for not doing more sooner”.

“Thankfully, because of the brave Ukraine resistance, there is still time.

“In the long history of our own country, we have never invaded another. But we do know what it’s like to have been invaded and to have the very existence of our national identity questioned too.

“For these reasons we feel for the idealism of the Ukrainian people, their defiance and their determination to face down a new evil empire,” the Fine Gael leader said.

Zelenskyy received a standing ovation after his speech earlier today. However, a handful of People Before Profit/Solidarity TDs did not applaud the Ukrainian leader, in protest against sanctions.

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