Ireland's dismissal of four Russian diplomats looks "paltry" compared to the response of other European Union states, according to a TD who has called for all diplomats at the Russian embassy to be expelled.
Neale Richmond told BreakingNews.ie: "Over the last 48 hours we've seen 150 Russian diplomats expelled from a range of EU member states including the Russian ambassador to Lithuania."
The Fine Gael TD added: "When I first raised the idea of the Russian ambassador [to Ireland] being expelled a number of weeks ago with the Tánaiste, they said they very much want to see this happening on an EU basis, and whilst it's very welcome we've expelled four diplomats so far it's beginning to look quite paltry compared to the response of other EU member states, and we need to act in this regard."
Mr Richmond said the Russian ambassador to Ireland, Yury Filatov, is "continuing to spread dangerous disinformation".
We've seen him lie to an Oireachtas committee, lie on national television, and it's utterly unsustainable.
He cited the Russian Embassy's response to the massacre of civilians in Bucha. It said in a statement: “The Russian Federation categorically rejects any allegations of the Russia Armed Forces involvement in the killing of civilians in the Kiev suburb of Bucha. There are no facts to prove such allegations.
“To the contrary, according to the Ministry of Defence of Russia, its military units have left Bucha on March 30th and there has not been a single incident of violence against the people [of] Bucha during their stay in it."
It continued: “The reports of the ‘massacre’ appeared four days later, after Ukrainian forces have moved into Bucha. There are numerous independent assessments of these reports, which indicate its staged nature...
“In the current political circumstances, judging by the simultaneous public statements by the EU and US officials made right at the moment of the release of the anti-Russian allegations in favour of imposing new sanctions against Russia, we are clearly witnessing yet another stage in the disinformation war against Russia.”
— Russia in Ireland (@Rus_Emb_Ireland) April 4, 2022
Sightings of bodies have been confirmed by independent journalists on the ground in Ukraine.
International reaction to the allegations has been strong, with US president Joe Biden calling for a war crimes trial against Russian president Vladimir Putin and Germany expelling 40 Russian diplomats.
The Russian Embassy is on Orwell Road, which is part of Mr Richmond's Dublin Rathdown constituency.
He has attended a number of protests at the embassy, adding that locals are "repulsed" by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"The widespread feeling is they want the ambassador expelled, they want all the diplomats expelled.
"A number of residents were concerned about the activities at the embassy even before the war, but men and women in the neighbourhood are absolutely repulsed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and are part of the cause to see the ambassador and his team expelled."
The Department of Foreign Affairs has said the embassy will remain open to keep lines of communication open with Russia.
However, Mr Richmond feels this is no longer in Ireland's interest.
As EU partners expel Russian diplomats in droves, Ireland must now expel the Russian Ambassador & all Russia’s remaining diplomats from their Embassy on Orwell Road.#StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/bRD0giXVO8Advertisement
— Neale Richmond (@nealerichmond) April 5, 2022
"We expelled four Russian diplomats in relation to concerns over espionage. This isn't the first time that's happened, given all that's gone on and the really horrendous scenes we're seeing in Ukraine, and the audacious comments being made by the Russian foreign minister about those scenes, I think we need to expel the whole lot at this stage, it's gone on far too long.
"There's no point maintaining a relationship with a power that treats the Irish people and the Irish government with such levels of disdain and disregard, the notion of maintaining an open line, there's always a way of opening channels, but having a diplomatic presence here is no longer in Ireland's interest, and it certainly doesn't go far enough in terms of our support for Ukraine.
"Ireland needs to lead, we've been good at a European level in pressing hard for further sanctions, but there's no excuse for this, the Lithuanians have already expelled the Russian ambassador.
"Russia as it stands has far too large a diplomatic presence in our country, we only have four diplomats in Moscow, it makes no sense, it's extremely suspicious, there should be no more hesitation about this.
"It's not just in terms of expressing solidarity with Ukraine, it's in our own interest to expel them, they are a worrying diplomatic, over-sized presence here at this stage, that needs to be expelled."