Former chief of staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett has said there is a huge opportunity for Ireland to develop renewable energy sources to ease reliance on oil and gas from Russia.
Developing independent energy resources would give Europe strategic autonomy, and Ireland could play an important role in that, he told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
Ireland was “a lonely sentinel” on the western border of Europe with one million square kilometres of seabed and natural resources, which is a huge opportunity for Ireland, he said.
Vice Admiral Mellett said very few analysts could have predicted what had happened in Ukraine, adding there had been “an extraordinary period of peace” in Europe for the past 75 years, with the exception of the war in the Balkans.
Russia had become emboldened with the inversion of power that had come about because of their “weaponisation” of social media, he said, adding most European states had been naive.
The “so-called” Russian manoeuvres off the southwest coast of Ireland had been deliberately provocative, he said. It was a “classic hybrid” action by Russia, explaining their strategy had been to make Europe look weak.
Vice Admiral Mellett also cited the example of the application for expansion of the Russian embassy in Dublin. The plans were not about bilateral relations, and the extent of the plan was not required for a small state like Ireland and its links with Russia.
When asked about neutrality, he stated Ireland could play a strategic role, but added he was concerned that a referendum on the topic could be polarising.