Coveney 'very open' to a debate about Ireland’s neutrality

Simon Coveney was speaking from Kyiv where he was having meetings with the Ukrainian government and members of the negotiating team that recently held peace talks in Turkey.
Coveney 'very open' to a debate about Ireland’s neutrality

Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney has said that he is “very open” to a debate about Ireland’s neutrality, but any such discussion would have to be evidence based and not a knee-jerk reaction.

In the meantime Ireland was committed to supporting Ukraine and was pushing for stronger sanctions against Russia he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

Mr Coveney was speaking from Kyiv where he was having meetings with the Ukrainian government and members of the negotiating team that recently held peace talks in Turkey.

When asked if he regarded Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide, the Mr Coveney said that would be for the international lawyers to decide, but certainly there had been mass murder of civilians.

The International Criminal Court was the right body to examine what had happened and Ireland was contributing €3million towards their work.

“We are ensuring there will be an international legal infrastructure that can fully investigate all of these crimes.”

Ireland had a significant voice as a sitting member of the UN council. Next year Ireland would also have a role in the prevention of chemical weapons and the Council of Europe, he added.

“We have been pushing hard for stronger sanctions. The EU needs to go further. Until the war ends, we need to continue to maintain pressure to act as a real deterrent to the continuation of that war.”

Russia would have to be held to account for the crimes it had committed, he added.

Mr Coveney will also travel to the nearby city of Bucha which he said had been completely devastated. He said he would need to be convinced that there had not been crimes against humanity committed in the city which was in effect a suburb of Kyiv akin to "Sutton to Dublin and Carrigaline to Cork."

Ireland was strongly supportive of Ukraine’s ambitions to become a member of the EU, said Mr Coveney.

“On the one hand, we're spending €1.5billion supporting Ukraine military to protect themselves, but on the other, we, the EU, are spending billions a week on Russian energy. We don't believe that is a sustainable position.”

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