Monday’s monthly meeting of Roscommon County Council opened with an impassioned speech by Cllr. John Keogh accusing Russia of war crimes in Ukraine and urging both the EU and NATO to press harder with sanctions.
“We should not allow the impact that a falling out with Russia would have on our economy to dictate the actions that we take. We need to show that we have leadership here,” he said.
Cllr. Keogh called on the Irish Government to immediately summon Irish citizens back from Russia and cut diplomatic ties with Russia. He also called for the expulsion of Russian Ambassador Yury Filatov “for what was a blatant attempt to lie to the Irish citizens”.
“If we don’t stand up for what is right and proper in this day then who knows what the future will have for us down the road…Ireland has led from the front on many social issues over the years. Now it is time again for Ireland, as a neutral country, to lead by example,” Cllr. Keogh said, before calling for solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
There was widespread support for Cllr. Keogh’s motion to send a Council resolution to the Government calling for Irish citizens in Russia to be brought home if they so wish and for diplomatic ties to be cut between the two countries.
Cllr. Tom Crosby described Vladimir Putin as a “dictator” and “a complete and utter madman”, who had no regard for human life, and said the EU was set up to prevent war.
Cllr. Orla Leyden said Putin was a “tyrannical leader” and did not carry out the invasion of Ukraine in the name of the Russian people.
“In Roscommon, there are a lot of people living here (who are) from Russia and a lot of people from Ukraine, and Putin doesn’t do this in their name,” she said.
“We have to be mindful that we live in a diverse community with people who are hurting and that we all stand in solidarity for peace”.
Quoting musician Jimi Hendrix, Cllr. Leyden added: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”.
Cllr. Tony Ward said everyone was for peace but that it had to be a “level playing field” and denounced the Russian invasion as “bully boy tactics and murder”.
“While I welcome the sanctions against Russia, I think we are five or six weeks too late,” he said.
Cllr. Laurence Fallon commended the Ukrainian people for protecting themselves “against all the odds” and criticised Ambassador Filatov’s recent interview on Irish television. He added that sanctions were working and that there would be further pressure on Putin.
Cllr. Michael Mulligan also condemned Russia’s actions and said nobody wanted war.
“Everyone is afraid in the long-term about this threat from Putin that he would bring in nuclear (weapons)…they’re afraid of their lives that someone – whether it’s Russia, China or the US – is going to start pressing these nuclear buttons – and if they do, there’ll be no more meetings here in Roscommon,” he said.
Cllrs. Liam Callaghan, Valerie Byrne and Donal Kilduff also supported the motion with Cllr. Kilduff commending the Ukrainian leadership and stating that The West should have taken action sooner. He added that he believed Putin’s actions would see regime changes in both Russia and Belarus.
Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice said that what was happening in Ukraine was terrorism.
“We give out about our politicians and democracy in a country like Ireland but we have a very open democracy…unfortunately they don’t in Belarus and Russia. Hopefully the people there can rise up against the likes of Putin”.