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weakest link Irish politicians offer to sail on navy boat to keep an eye on Russians

'I think that we should travel out there on naval ships and monitor what they are doing'

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Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell. Photo: Pic Tom Burke

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell. Photo: Pic Tom Burke

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell. Photo: Pic Tom Burke

Three Irish politicians have volunteered to board an Irish naval vessel to observe drills the Russian military is due to complete off the southwest coast of Ireland next week.

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell, a Defence Forces veteran, said he wants to sail out with other politicians to observe the Russian military.

He said two others have said they will join him, Fianna Fáil Senator Diarmuid Wilson and Independent TD Cathal Berry, who is a former army ranger.

Mr Craughwell said the Russian flotilla will be somewhere off the southwest coast next Wednesday or Thursday.

“This is not unusual but what brings it to the fore this time is we have difficulties at the border of Ukraine at the moment and this is a provocative act more than anything else,” he said on RTÉ Radio 1’s Saturday with Katie Hannon.

“I see this as a provocative act, they picked the weakest link if you want in Europe, Ireland, where we have a pathetic defence set up at the moment due to lack of investment.

"So, they picked us as the weak people and we really cannot monitor what they are doing, we are relying on the British to monitor that part of the ocean and feed any information to us.

“It’s a PR exercise for them, a show of might and a show of power and I think that we should travel out there on naval ships and we should monitor what they are doing in order to show that we too care about our economic zone."

Asked if politicians sailing out there would be a PR exercise on Ireland’s part, Senator Craughwell said “absolutely”.

He added: “Senator Diarmuid Wilson has said he will travel, Cathal Berry said he will travel and I'm sure many others would if we got to speak to them.”

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said he doesn’t think politicians sailing out to observe the Russian military exercises is a good idea.

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"Gerard has outlined very well the difficulties and challenges of the Irish navy and I don't know if I would be adding to that by throwing a pile of politicians on a boat with them,” he said.

"I think that would probably make their job more difficult other than anything.”

In a statement to The Times Ireland, the Department of Defence said it would not be appropriate for politicians to board Irish naval ships to observe the Russian military drills.

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