The response to the war in Ukraine was ‘front and centre’ of the latest COSAC (Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union) meeting held in Paris last week and attended by Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú.
A member of the Oireachtas EU Affairs Committee, the Sinn Féin TD said the ‘savage invasion’ of Ukraine by Russia had ‘changed utterly the world as we know it’.
He said the West ‘needs to learn from the failures to protect other people who are suffering under oppression, invasion and occupation and urged the EU to ‘play a positive role’. Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘In the case of Ukraine, there is one aggressor – Vladimir Putin.
‘We need to break the Russian war machine and the oligarchs who support it’.
The European Union is facing a refugee crisis as a result of the war not seen since the 1940s and the Sinn Féin TD said: ‘We need to ensure that we have the finance and the resources to deal with that.
The war is having a ‘terrible impact’ on the lives of Ukrainians, including those in Ireland, many of whom have returned to their homeland to fight against Russian aggression, he said.
The Louth TD said: ‘It is a much smaller world now. There are people from my own county returning to Ukraine to fight for their country and we have to salute their courage’.
Europe is at the forefront of the response to those fleeing the conflict, and Deputy Ó Murchú pointed out how the lessons from the pandemic, when the EU showed ‘solidarity and co-operation’ can be put to use in looking after refugees from this war.
He pointed in particular to the vaccination procurement and distribution by the EU during the Covid 19 crisis in dealing with problems through co-operation but said that ‘more lessons need to be learned about the EU being more equitable to the developing world’.
However, he added that the war is also showing how volatile the reliance on fossil fuel, ‘particularly Russian fossil fuels’, is and the EU ‘has to accept that we need to move away from the dependency on these and to ensure energy stability for all into the future’.
States need to do the ‘heavy lifting’ in relation to pushing renewable energy and climate change mitigations forward and the EU fiscal constraints that could hold this back need to be revisited, he said.
This needs, he added, to be coupled with ‘immediate mitigations’ regarding energy, including ‘block buying’.
He said: ‘We cannot have the fuel price hike cost of this war and the parallel climate actions heaped onto the backs of ordinary people’.
He also pointed out that while there continues to be ‘hope for an EU built on rights and justice, places like Yemen and Palestine ‘are two of the many places where there have been huge failures by the West, and the EU’.
He reiterated Ireland’s solidarity with Ukraine multiple times over the two day event.