Taoiseach Micheál Martin says country needs to “move” from controversy over Sabina Higgins’ letter to Ukraine.


Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the country must now “move on” from the controversy over the letter about the war in Ukraine published on the President’s website by Sabina Higgins.

r Martin said he would meet President Michael D. Higgins next month as part of normal constitutional and government procedures – but declined to say whether the letter controversy would be raised.

He confirmed that he has not previously spoken to Mr Higgins on the subject.

The Fianna Fáil leader also declined to say whether he would ask for a review of the practice of allowing the incumbent president’s spouse to have personal material published on the president’s official website.

“I think we have to have a sense of perspective. There were a lot of debates – this is important – we live in a democracy and it’s good that we express people’s points of view,” he said.

“From everyone involved, I think it’s time to move away from that now.

“The key point is that the Irish government’s position on what should be done here is rock solid – Russia must at least retreat to the positions it took at the start of the war.

“There is no excuse for the kind of war crimes that Russia has committed. The level of violence it inflicted on the Ukrainian people. It goes to the heart of the multilateral world order.”

Mr Martin said Ms Higgins said the letter was written in a personal capacity – and the President also clarified the position.

“The President himself issued a statement through his spokesman, expressing his longstanding condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I think Sabina Higgins clarified the situation with her testimony,” he said.

“To be fair, the President also reiterated his strong condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The Irish Government’s position has been consistent from the start and remains the position that the invasion was both illegal and immoral.

“It was a terrible act against the people of Ukraine.

“We live in a democracy and we are aware of that and people are entitled to their opinion.

“We all agree that we need peace. There’s no quarrel there.

“The government believes that Russia must end violence and war and withdraw from the territory of Ukraine.”

Mr Martin declined to be advised whether there were lessons to be learned from the controversy and the use and monitoring of the President’s website.

“Sabina Higgins has made her position clear. I don’t see it that way (that the political parties were embarrassed). From a government perspective, I don’t think anyone has any doubts about the Irish government’s position on the war in Ukraine.

“I don’t think the Ukrainian government is (confused about Irish support).

“I spoke to President Zelenskyy, so I think we have to keep an eye on everything.

“Clarity came from the President, clarity came from Sabina Higgins herself. Everyone accepts that there is no equivalence between Vladimir Putin and President Zelenskyy.

“Ukraine didn’t want this war, Europe didn’t want this war and Europe, with President Biden, tried everything to prevent this war.

“Terrible, terrible damage has been done as a result of the war and there has been terrible loss of life.

“It’s unnecessary, it’s reprehensible and it should end.”

Mr Martin declined to say whether the President’s wife’s ability to post material on the President’s official website could now be verified.

“I think the explanation is that it’s not the first time … we know the president’s wife has built a practice over the years where they can go to a specific opening or accept a specific reason for the benefit the community.

“This has been happening for quite some time. I think we need to understand that an informal practice has built up over the years.

“What is clear is that the government’s position has not changed, nor do I think the Ukrainian government or the people in general are aware of our position as consistently articulated in the UN Security Council.”

The Taoiseach said he saw firsthand the war crimes being committed in Ukraine.

“I have visited Ukraine myself and traveled to Bucha and Irpin, where I have seen firsthand – I have met families who have been deeply affected by the terror of the war and the crimes committed in relation to the targeting of innocent civilians were committed.

“The cities I visited were not military installations.

“Our position, along with others in the EU, is clear – that Russia should at least retreat to the positions it had before the war began.

“In our view, we are aware that many EU leaders, including Chancellor Scholtz and President Macron, have made many efforts to get Russian President Vladimir Putin – to prevent him from starting the war in the first place .

“Unfortunately, I think he (Putin) has a 19th-century imperialist outlook on life.

“He decided to invade Ukraine and he did it.” Taoiseach Micheál Martin says country needs to “move” from controversy over Sabina Higgins’ letter to Ukraine.

Fry Electronics Team

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