Opposition must be briefed on Government position on Russia

Issued 24 March 2018

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin has called for a full briefing for Opposition parties of any security and defence review conducted into possible Russian activities on Irish soil, before any Irish diplomatic actions are taken.

The Labour Leader reiterated his support for Ireland’s position at the EU Council yesterday and said that the issue would be raised with the Taoiseach on Tuesday in the Dáil during questions on national security.

Deputy Howlin said:

“It is simply not credible that Ireland would stand alone of the 28 EU members on this issue, though I regard with some scepticism the Taoiseach’s efforts to play up and overemphasise his role on the issue.

“However, the next steps are vitally important. Before any diplomatic action is taken, Opposition parties must be briefed by the Government of any security and defence review into possible Russian activities on Irish soil.

“In the Dáil on Tuesday the Taoiseach is due to answer questions on national security so it is essential that a briefing be provided in advance, and that sufficient time is committed in the Dáil to addressing this serious matter.

“I am not of the view that Ireland should expel any foreign diplomats save for activities taken on Irish soil, which have already been the subject of media speculation.

“That should be the focus of any reviews undertaken by the Tánaiste.

“The EU has already withdrawn its diplomatic representative, and Russia knows where the EU stands on the issue.

“We should be slow to contemplate additional activity that would escalate the matter further unless our own circumstances warrant it."