RUSSIAN government vessels with technology capable of interfering with subsea cables have left the south west coast, but not without raising alarm bells at Government, EU and Nato level.
Independent TD Michael Collins told The Southern Star that he agrees with an assessment by Eoin McNamara, a research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International
Affairs, that the presence of Russian cargo vessels off the coast of Ireland was ‘a cheap way to send a threat’ to Ireland, the European Union and Nato.
The Irish Defence Forces, Óglaigh na hÉireann, confirmed that it was engaged in monitoring Russian commercial ships, both outside and inside Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Last year, the presence of Russian ships close to Ireland’s fishing territory saw Patrick Murphy, head of the Irish South and West Fish
and his colleagues, literally meet the challenge head-on, including a face-to-face meeting with the Russian ambassador.
Following that meeting, the Russian Federation promised not to conduct its military activities close to the West Cork fishing fleet at work.
Last week, Russia’s ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov criticised the media coverage saying it was trying to give an impression of suspicious activity.
But Deputy Collins said he had his own views on the matter, especially after one of the vessels – which was equipped with technology capable of interfering with subsea cables – was ‘hovering for two days’ in the vicinity of a new subsea communications cable.
Deputy Collins expressed concerns about gaps in Ireland’s defence forces and he said Ireland would have been unable to protect ourselves if there had been an incident.
As part of their maritime, defence and security operations, the Irish Air Corps Maritime Patrol Aircraft said it ‘observed Russian commercial vessels in international waters off the island of Ireland and these vessels have now left Ireland’s EEZ.’