Ireland ‘must talk to Britain’ before Russian tourists are banned

Ireland would need to hold talks with the UK before taking any steps to limit the entry of Russian tourists into the country, a senior minister said.

Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said the UK and Ireland’s Common Travel Area (CTA) means Dublin needs to speak to London before it tightens rules on Russian visas.

Mr Coveney was addressing informal meetings of EU foreign and defense ministers in Prague to discuss the war in Ukraine.

Some European countries are pushing for a ban on Russian tourists entering the EU’s Schengen area.

Ireland is not part of the Schengen zone and the CTA allows British and Irish citizens to move freely between the two jurisdictions.

“I can understand that a number of countries obviously want to raise this issue tomorrow and tonight in order to again increase the cost of what Russia is doing for Russians,” Coveney said in Prague on Tuesday.

“Ireland is in an unusual environment in this area because we are not part of the Schengen area. We already have quite a strict regime in terms of facilitating visas from Russia, we don’t have a visa facilitation system like they have through Schengen, so we’re already in a slightly different category.

“And of course we share a common travel area with the UK so we would need to speak to the UK on issues like this too, but we can certainly be part of that discussion.”

In addition to possible restrictions on Russian visitor visas, an EU plan for military training of the Ukrainian armed forces will also be discussed at the meetings in Prague.

Fianna Fail MEP Billy Kelleher called on the Irish government to support a targeted visa ban for Russians entering the EU.

“Over the past six months, the EU as a collective has imposed far-reaching economic sanctions on Russia,” he said.

“While I wish we had gone further in banning Russian gas imports, the EU sanctions were an important sign of our strong opposition to Russian aggression.

“However, it is time to move forward with the sanctions package to include the application of bans on Russian tourist and non-humanitarian visas.

“I don’t think that EU member states should grant the holiday wishes of Russian citizens, especially the oligarchs who support Putin. While, of course, many Russians are against the war, we must make it clear to everyone in Russia that the continuation of the war, this war by Putin, will have repercussions on their own lives.

“Of course, Russian citizens who are actively fleeing persecution by Putin and his cronies should be given visas. These courageous leaders are well known and should be supported in escaping Russia. In addition, certain exceptions should be made for family reunification and medical necessity reasons,

“My colleagues in the Baltics and Eastern Europe strongly support a visa ban and I believe the Irish government should do the same.” Ireland ‘must talk to Britain’ before Russian tourists are banned

Fry Electronics Team

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