Russia should lose permanent seat on UN Security Council, Taoiseach says

Micheál Martin says Ireland needs to ‘assess’ if it can accept Russians fleeing conscription to fight in Ukraine

Russia should lose its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has urged.

Speaking at the United Nations in New York on Friday, he said Russia was behaving like a “rogue state” and not playing a constructive role on the council which is charged with securing international peace.

He said there was “huge irreconcilability” between Russia being a permanent member of the council and its behaviour in attacking Ukraine.

Asked if Ireland would be prepared to accept Russians who were fleeing from potential conscription to fight in Ukraine, Mr Martin said: “I think we’d have to assess all of that. I mean, in the first instance, we are accepting Ukrainian families who are fleeing war. That has been a priority for us, along with normal asylum-seeking applicants, which is kind of way up this year. That is putting a lot of pressure on the country. So we have to work within our capacities, to be frank. But we’ve never refused people who are fleeing because of conscience issues or fleeing persecution.”

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Mr Martin has strongly criticised Russia on a number of occasions at the UN this week where many world leaders are meeting.

Mr Martin said that last year Russia had blocked a resolution drawn up by Ireland that reflected the reality that climate change was increasingly driving insecurity and acting as a threat multiplier.

He said 113 countries had supported the proposals and others had abstained.

The Taoiseach said “Russia was the one country that vetoed that [resolution] with no rational explanation for it.” He said that incident had been an illustration of Russia’s approach on a whole range of issues.

“It is not playing a constructive role,” he said.

Mr Martin said that many had already agreed that the council needed reform even before the invasion of Ukraine. He suggested that this was of greater necessity “given the war in Ukraine and how it was being conducted – in violations of all known conventions even military conventions”.

In a statement posted via social media, the Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov said it was regrettable Mr Martin’s UN address did not reference the loss of rights of Russian speaking people in the Donbass regions of Ukraine.

“Now that the Eastern Ukraine is voting in the referenda to retain their way of life and to join Russia, Taoiseach is calling it a ‘sham’,” he said.

“Now, the people of Donbass will not only hopefully give clear answers to the long-lasting humiliation and destruction of their livelihoods, but will also finally reclaim their right to live in dignity and to have their human rights and fundamental principles respected.”

There are currently five permanent members of the security council: the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France, an arrangement that has been in placed for decades. There are also 10 non-permanent members elected for a two-year term. Ireland’s position on the council expires at the end of the year.

Meanwhile speaking on the forthcoming budget next week, the Taoiseach said the Government was worried about “the haemorrhaging of a lot of houses from the market in terms of landlords wanting to sell, so that’s an issue that we were examining, what are the best policy instruments to stop that haemorrhage. There have been thousands of properties have left the market in the last five years. And that’s something that we need to address.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent