Tuesday 24 April 2018

Taoiseach sidesteps question of blame over attack on spy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at at a European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at at a European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

Shona Murray

The Taoiseach avoided a direct question over whether Russia was to blame for the attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

On the margins of a two-day summit in Brussels, Mr Varadkar was asked: "Do you agree with the British government that Russia is to blame for the attack in Salisbury?"

He replied: "I think what happened at Salisbury was loathsome and reprehensible; and we're going to stand right beside the UK on that issue.

"An attempted assassination or a chemical attack - no matter who does it - is something that we're going to condemn and condemn outright," he added.

So far, the EU has failed to come up with a definite line on culpability for the attack.

Most countries, like Ireland, are awaiting the results of the investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The UK says the evidence and results of its own investigation points to a smoking gun in Moscow.

But European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said "that's not something we'd have said publicly yet because we're waiting to see the outcome of the investigation that's taking place.

"It's not something that we would do without that full knowledge."

Britain reacted by expelling 23 Russian intelligence officials.

Irish Independent

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