Taoiseach backs EU ban on coal and oil imports from Russia

Micheál Martin said the European Union must keep adding pressure on Moscow.
Taoiseach backs EU ban on coal and oil imports from Russia

By Cate McCurry, PA

The Taoiseach said he would back an EU ban on coal and oil imports from Russia over its war in Ukraine.

Micheál Martin said the European Union must keep adding pressure on Moscow to stop its “appalling and immoral war” on the people of Ukraine.

It comes as the EU’s executive branch proposed a ban on coal imports from Russia in what would be the first sanctions targeting the country’s lucrative energy industry over its war in Ukraine.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU needed to increase the pressure on Russian president Vladimir Putin after what she described as the “heinous crimes” carried out around Kyiv.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Protesters gathered outside the Russian Embassy in south Dublin last month. Photo: PA

She said the ban on coal imports is worth €4 billion per year.

She added that the EU has already started working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports.

Ms von der Leyen did not mention natural gas.

A consensus among the 27 EU member countries on targeting gas would be more difficult to secure.

Speaking before the proposed ban, Mr Martin said that Ireland is pressing its EU counterparts for the strongest possible sanctions.

“We would favour the inclusion of oil and coal in this latest round of sanctions given the indiscriminate murder of civilians in Ukraine,” Mr Martin said.

“We have to do everything we possibly can to keep the pressure as a deterrent in this appalling, immoral war on the people of Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Russian Embassy in Ireland is running out of fuel for heating and hot water following claims that Irish oil companies have refused to deliver supplies.

The Irish Daily Mirror reported that the embassy has written a letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney’s department about the issue.

Mr Varadkar said that while he does not have sympathy for the Russian Embassy, there are rules in which Ireland must follow when hosting international diplomats.

“There are particular rules under the Vienna Conventions as to how we’re supposed to treat diplomats and diplomatic commissions in our country so I think they have to be followed.

“I actually didn’t have the chance to read that article so I don’t know the details.”

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Photo: Damien Storan/PA

More than 18,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland since the beginning of the war in February.

The Government has in recent days sought additional accommodation in hotels and is seeking other ways to increase supply.

“We’ve asked the Secretary General of the department to chair the task-force to deal with the pledges that are arrived in, to progress that as speedily as we can, so that we can take the pressure off,” Mr Martin added.

“I want to thank all the public servants in all departments including children, justice, housing, local authorities, and across the board for really rising up to this challenge, it has been an enormous challenge which has come very rapidly on the public and has been hot on the heels of the pandemic.”

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