By Daniel McConnell
The Government looks set to expel a number of Russian diplomats as a “show of solidarity” with the UK, Government sources have said.
Some suggestions indicate that the Government could demand the departure of just one Russian diplomat, but this was not confirmed.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney, following a security briefing, is to make a recommendation to Cabinet tomorrow and the Irish Examiner has confirmed it will mean a number of Russian diplomats being forced to leave the country.
“Simon Coveney will bring a recommendation to Cabinet on Tuesday following a review and then the Cabinet will approve it. Ireland requires a Cabinet decision. It would not be unreasonable to expect that some form of expulsions are likely,” a source said.
This would be the most aggressive stance taken by an Irish Government since the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over the use of forged passports in the assassination of a Hamas arms dealer in Dubai, allegedly by Israeli agents.
Mr Coveney was briefed tonight and he has been in touch with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar constantly on the matter and it is clear the Government is intent on continuing its hard-line stance adopted on this matter since the EU summit last week.
Formally it is up to Mr Coveney to present a recommendation to Cabinet for its approval.
His spokesperson said the assessment of alleged Russian activities in Ireland – being conducted by a high-level group – was “ongoing”.
“Donald Tusk’s tweet does not include Ireland. Assessments on our side are continuing."
It is expected the Tánaiste will share his assessment at the weekly Cabinet meeting tomorrow morning. Shortly afterwards, he and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will indicate what sanction will apply.
Sources said on Sunday that given the Taoiseach’s prominence in leading with this issue at the European Council in Brussels, it is highly likely that at least one Russian diplomat will be expelled tomorrow.
However, such expulsions do not require a formal Cabinet decision and are executive decisions made by the Taoiseach of the day, on the recommendation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.