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Archive for Ireland

Newsline: Irish Ambassador to France refuses to comment on ‘Champagnegate’

The Irish Ambassador to France has refused to publicly answer questions about last year’s ‘Champagnegate’ controversy. Former secretary general at the Department of Foreign Affairs Niall Burgess would not take questions about having a champagne celebration in Iveagh House during the lockdown. The end of Mr Burgess’ term as the top civil servant in the department was marred by controversy as he took a ‘selfie’ photograph of himself and his officials in the department standing closely together in June 2020 while strict social distancing restrictions were in place. A team of officials were celebrating following Ireland’s successful bid to get on the UN Security Council. Mr Burgess took the photograph and posted it on Twitter with the caption “Now we’re walking on air…”. (https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/ambassador-embroiled-in-champagnegate-refuses-to-comment-on-controversy-42175507.html) The tweet was deleted shortly after. Details of the event did not emerge until December of last year, causing a political firestorm for the Government and foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney.

Newsline: Former housekeeper at Brazilian embassy in Ireland to receive €21,000 for unfair dismissal

A housekeeper who spent more than 20 years working at the official residence of the Brazilian ambassador to Ireland has secured an order for over €21,000 for unfair dismissal. She was told in May 2021 that her job was to be terminated that July “as she had not accepted the respondent’s offer”. (https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2022/1117/1336719-brazilian-ambassadors-former-housekeeper-wins-wrc-case/) The Workplace Relations Commission found there was a “near absence” of fair procedures in her sacking, which came after the failure to reach agreement over the removal of a housing clause from her contract. Alessandra Quinn’s claim under the Unfair Dismissals Act against the Embassy of Brazil was upheld by the Workplace Relations Commission. However, it was found that the embassy had failed to show “substantial grounds” justifying Ms Quinn’s dismissal and that there was a “near absence” of fair and proper procedures. It was found the complaint to be well-founded and awarded Ms Quinn €21,793 for her seven months’ lost earnings before she was able to secure a new job.

Newsline: Ireland denies plans to expel Russian ambassador

There are no plans to expel Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said. Mr Coveney was speaking after it was confirmed that 52 key representatives from the Republic of Ireland have been placed on a sanction list for expressing what the Kremlin claimed was “Russophobic sentiment”. (https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/2022/11/19/no-plans-to-expel-russian-ambassador-but-review-of-embassy-presence-is-ongoing-coveney-says/) Six senior politicians were named including Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Mr Coveney. Mr Coveney said it is essentially a list of most Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil politicians who are banned from travelling to Russia.

Newsline: Ireland summons Iranian ambassador

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is calling in the Iranian ambassador to Ireland following recent events in Iran and Ukraine. He told Fine Gael’s parliamentary party tonight that there is strong evidence the drones used this week against Kyiv’s citizens are from Iran. The minister said he had already spoken to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian regarding drones sourced by Russia. (https://www.rte.ie/news/politics/2022/1019/1330242-iranian-ambassador/) Mr Coveney also said what is happening to Iranian women is unacceptable.

Newsline: Irish government seeks answers from Chinese embassy on ‘police service station’ in Dublin

The Government has sought answers from the Chinese embassy about the presence of a Chinese “police service station” in Dublin. (https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/2022/10/08/government-seeks-answers-from-chinese-embassy-on-police-service-station-in-dublin/) The Fuzhou Police Overseas Service Station opened in Dublin earlier this year in an office building on Capel Street which it shares with other Chinese organisations. Signage for the station was removed from the front of the building last week and it is not known if it remains operational. Queries to the the embassy and a phone number associated with the station went unanswered this week. The embassy previously said the station offers administrative assistance to Chinese nationals living in Ireland, such as facilitating drivers’ licence renewals. It rejected reports the station was involved in law enforcement activity. A recent report from human rights group Safeguard Defenders said the station is part of a worldwide network of overseas Chinese law enforcement offices, some of which have been known to “persuade” Chinese residents to return home to face criminal charges. Some of these stations are accused of pressurising or threatening emigrants and their family members to force them to return home. According to Chinese authorities, some 230,000 people have been “persuaded” to return to China from other countries since April 2021.

Newsline: French Embassy in Ireland warns of ‘severe housing crisis’

The French Embassy in Ireland has warned anyone thinking of moving here that the country is currently experiencing a “severe housing crisis”. In a statement on its website, the embassy in Dublin said new arrivals will face “significant difficulties” in finding accommodation. It also warned that a strong demand has led to a “sharp increase in rents which are currently much more expensive than in Paris, including shared accommodation”. (https://www.independent.ie/news/french-embassy-in-ireland-warns-international-students-that-ireland-is-experiencing-a-severe-housing-crisis-41994110.html) It posted the advice on its website as part of guidance for French people looking to move to Ireland.

Newsline: Irish embassy credit cards were used to pay €3,800 for Paris AirBnb and €2,470 on chocolate

Irish Embassy credit cards were used to pay congestion charge fines in London, for the purchase of £2,100 (€2,470) worth of handmade chocolates, to pay an Airbnb bill for a Paris apartment of €3,800, and for tens of thousands of euro in hotel costs. Copies of card statements from some of Ireland’s most high-profile embassies detail how congestion charge penalties of £80 were paid on two separate occasions at the embassy in London. Ireland’s UK embassy also splashed out more than £2,100 on handmade chocolate from the Kerry-based artisan producer Dingle Chocolates, with a further £827 spent with the same supplier on a later date. There were also regular Nespresso bills ranging from £76 to £166 to keep the Embassy coffee machine stocked up for “senior level meetings”. The embassy in London also incurred a £3,500 bill at the five-star Taj Hotel in central London, although a credit of £1,755 was later applied to their account from the hotel. Also on the credit card statements were £192 for Ardsallagh goats cheese and £353 to the Oxenford Farm, which provides Christmas trees. (https://www.msn.com/en-ie/news/other/irish-embassy-credit-cards-were-used-to-pay-e2-82-ac3800-for-paris-airbnb-and-e2-82-ac2470-on-chocolate/ar-AA10TkGp) There were extensive bills of more than £9,000 from the Hilton Hotel in March this year to coincide with St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Other items purchased regularly through the embassy card included a monthly Spotify subscription, regular congestion charge payments for London’s streets, and a magazine subscription for The Spectator.

Newsline: Irish embassy in Ukraine reopens

The Irish embassy in Ukraine has reopened, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed. Mr Coveney said: “The embassy resumes its operations on the ground in Kyiv, the team’s key priority will be renewing and building their network of contacts with Ukrainian government officials to better inform Ireland’s provision of support and assistance to the government and people of Ukraine.” The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine with the EU and other international partners. “The department continues to strongly advise against all travel to Ukraine, for any purpose,” it added. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/irish-embassy-in-ukraine-reopens/ar-AA10WfIu) It also said that like other embassies operating in Ukraine, the Irish office will be functioning with very limited capacity to provide in-person consular assistance.

Newsline: UK rejects EU request for ‘mini-embassy’ in Belfast after Brexit

The British minister leading negotiations on the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol has rejected a European Union request for what he described as “a mini-embassy” in Belfast. The EU wants to open an office in Northern Ireland to monitor checks and controls on goods crossing the Irish Sea after the end of the current transition period. But Michael Gove told a committee of MPs that Britain saw no reason for any permanent presence for the EU apart from its delegation’s headquarters in London. “Of course it is the case that the EU has the right to monitor the operation of what UK officials are doing but there’s no need for there to be a mini-embassy in Belfast in order for that to happen,” he told the House of Commons committee on the future relationship with the EU. (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/gove-rejects-eu-request-for-mini-embassy-in-belfast-after-brexit-1.4239223) In a letter to the European Commission, paymaster general Penny Mordaunt said any necessary monitoring could be carried out by means of ad hoc visits by EU officials to the North. Under the protocol, goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be subject to EU customs controls unless they are explicitly exempt.

Newsline: Russian embassy in Dublin monitored after reports of construction during coronavirus restrictions

Gardai are monitoring the Embassy of Russia in Dublin after receiving reports of construction work being carried out during the coronavirus lockdown. The embassy has being constructing a controversial new consular building on its grounds in South County Dublin. The Government banned construction work as part of its clamp down on non-essential activities during the coronavirus emergency. Last week, An Garda Siochana confirmed they received complaints about work continuing on at embassy’s new building despite the lockdown. “After receiving reports of non-essential work taking place at a construction site on Orwell Road, An Garda Síochána have being monitoring the site,” a garda spokesperson said. The embassy said “generally speaking” construction work stopped at their compound but said necessary technological work did continue. “The Embassy fully respects all measures introduced by the Irish Government under current Covid-19 conditions,” a spokesperson said. “Generally speaking, the construction of the Consular building has been halted. There is, though, a small amount of technologically necessary work – which is clearly deemed essential – and has to be completed. “It is done by the Russian workers with all necessary precautions and social distancing. Furthermore, they live at the Embassy’s compound (which has been COVID-free up to now) and comply with all restrictions introduced by authorities,” she added. (https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/gardai-monitoring-russian-embassy-after-reports-of-construction-during-coronavirus-restrictions-39120792.html) The Embassy sparked controversy two years ago when it emerged it planned to quadruple the size of its premises in Dublin. Construction on a substantial new building to the front of the compound was nearing completion last week.