Explanation needed for high number of Russian diplomats in Ireland

Brendan Howlin TD
17 November 2022
  • 26 Officials still based in the Russian Embassy – only 4 have been expelled.
  • Labour calls again for Russian Ambassador to be expelled.
  • Ireland should commit support for Ukraine’s electricity grid.

Labour Party spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Howlin TD has called for an explanation from the government as to why 26 officers are still accredited to the Russian Embassy in Ireland, reiterated Labour’s call for the Russian Ambassador to be expelled, and called for a commitment from the government to provide assistance in restoring Ukraine’s energy grid.

Deputy Howlin said:

“Since the outbreak of Putin’s vicious and barbaric imperial invasion of Ukraine, the Labour Party has called for the expulsion of the Russian Ambassador. There is no clear reason anymore why we should maintain diplomatic relations with a country waging a destructive war of aggression with multiple documented breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

“What is very concerning is why such a high number of Russian diplomats are still based in Ireland and what their purpose is. Information provided to me in October in response to a Dáil question shows there are still 26 Russian officers notified to the Irish government under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations. 11 of these are diplomats and there are 15 administrative and technical staff.

“To date Ireland has only expelled four officials back in March but since then numerous horrific human rights abuses by the Russian forces have been documented. Today we hear reports of a mass grave uncovered in Kherson with 63 bodies showing signs of torture, and as winter approaches Russia is systematically attacking the energy infrastructure of Ukraine which is a further war crime against the Ukrainian people.

“With no travel between Ireland and Russia possible, and extensive EU sanctions in place we need an explanation from the Minister for Foreign Affairs as to why such a high number of Russian diplomatic staff are still based here? We have no idea as to whether this high level of staffing is for the collective of sensitive information, or other nefarious purposes but Ireland should question why so many are based here, and what they are all doing now.

“The Minister has summoned the Russian Ambassador today, but if he won’t expel him, then he should demand the expulsion of the vast majority of the Russian diplomatic presence here. Ireland still maintains an Embassy in Moscow but it’s utility must also be questioned now. Irish people have been advised to leave Russia as soon as possible since March, and in April two of our diplomats were expelled.

“The carefully planned, and numerous missile strikes by Russia against the electricty, heating and water infrastructre of Ukraine is an attack on civilians and is designed to damage morale, and will lead to the deaths of many ordinary people if supports are not maintained for Ukraine. I am calling on the Irish government to commit to providing generators, and whatever other technical or financial assitance we can to ensure the energy and sanitation systems are restored and supported.”

ENDS

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney) by Deputy Brendan Howlin for WRITTEN ANSWER on 11/10/2022  

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of accredited diplomats from the Russian Federation that are based in Ireland; the number that are located at the Russian Embassy; the total number of staff that are located here that work in the Russian Embassy; the information that his Department has on the duties of each Russian diplomat located here; the changes in staffing levels at the embassy that have occurred since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 (VCDR) identifies three categories of Mission staff as follows:

– Diplomatic staff

– Administrative and Technical staff, and

– Service staff

Pursuant to Article 10, VCDR, the Department of Foreign Affairs shall be notified of the appointment of members of the mission, their arrival and their final departure or the termination of their functions with the mission.

Locally engaged staff at resident diplomatic missions in Ireland are not notified to my Department. My Department is therefore not in a position to give details of the numbers of locally engaged staff employed by resident missions in Ireland.

There are currently 26 officers at the Embassy of the Russian Federation who have been notified to my Department under Article 10 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – 11 Diplomats and 15 Administrative and Technical staff.

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine there were a total of 30 officers at the Embassy, 14 diplomats and 16 Administrative and Technical staff.

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