The Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has described the Russian government’s actions in Ukraine as “unacceptable and illegal” and said Ireland “does need to be part of the response to that”.
Minister Donohoe confirmed that later today the Irish government will announce what sanctions it will impose on Russia as part of the EU’s response to its invasion of Ukraine.
World leaders have sought to back up their tough words over Russia's aggression against Ukraine, announcing financial sanctions, trade and travel bans and other measures meant to pressure Moscow to pull back from the brink of war.
Minister Donohoe said Irish trade with Russia accounts for 1pc of national income and it is understandable that Irish companies who trade with Russia would raise concerns.
He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme that the sanctions which will be announced this afternoon will include measures to disrupt the flow of Russian money through Ireland.
“An element of that will be to break and challenge the links between the finance and capital markets of the European Union and Russia. So, there will be elements of that that will be included in the package of measures that will be confirmed by the European Union later on today.
“Yes there is indeed a level of Russian capital traded in and out of our IFSC… It’s important to note that over the last two years the government has taken two steps to deal with some of the concerns that have been raised.
“In the Finance Act 2019 we changed the tax law that is relevant to some of the funds that have been debated of late and last year we made significant changes to anti-money laundering legislation.”
Minister Donohoe said anyone watching the evolving situation in the Ukraine would be “gravely concerned” at the prospect of another war in Europe and the freedom of independent states being challenged.
He said his first concern is for “security on our continent” and the economic implications of war for Ireland and the EU.
However, Minister Donohoe said the Irish government has no plans to introduce pre-emptive measures before the budget to support members of the public who are struggling with the rising cost of living.
“We’ve yet to implement even what we’ve agreed. Across the next couple of weeks, we will be implementing for example the energy rebate.
“The next point for revising those measures will be the budget in October. Of course, I appreciate the consequences and the difficulties that many do face at the moment… but overall the government has put in place €1.5 billion worth of measures between our budget and what we announced a couple of weeks ago to respond back to the difficulties that we know many are facing.”
Minister Donohoe said Ireland already has a “very high” national debt - €230 billion - for a country of its size.
He added taking on the additional public debt during the pandemic was necessary and he “believes” it can be managed “safely”.
“What we now need to do, which we are doing, is manage our way carefully out of the many emergency supports we had in place when we had a health emergency.
“As we do that, it offers us the ability to safely manage a higher level of debt.”