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stand off Paul Murphy TD condemns 'openly racist' battalion as he defends not applauding Ukraine leader

The Azov Battalion espouses right wing ideology, while showcasing Nazi symbols and focusing on white supremacist ideology

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Zelensky's speech in the Dail

Zelensky's speech in the Dail

Zelensky's speech in the Dail

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy has reacted to criticism of party members who refused to applaud Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Dáil speech in a tweet referring to the controversial Azov battalion.

The Ukrainian leader was given a standing ovation as he addressed members of the Dáil and Seanad, however, Bríd Smith, Gino Kenny, Richard Boyd Barrett and Paul Murphy, did not clap

A spokesperson for the party said this was due to a disagreement with calls from Mr Zelensky for NATO involvement in the war, as well as economic sanctions on Russia and the banning of opposition parties in Ukraine.

The move was criticised by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney who said: “I think that says a lot about those people.”

I’m glad to say that the vast majority of people, senators and TDs today stood and applauded in respect," Minister Coveney said.

“The people who didn’t can speak for themselves, but I find it extraordinary that they would choose to make a political point somehow by not doing that, when the response of everybody else was such a human one.

"We have people in the Dail standing up trying to make a point by not applauding. I think that says a lot about those people."

But in a tweet this afternoon, Deputy Murphy wrote: “If the Azov battalion (an openly racist fascist regiment) had been present and spoke during President Zelensky's speech yesterday in the Dáil, would everybody else still have applauded?”

He attached a link to an article on the website of the Athens publication www.ekathimerini.com which revealed how Greece’s main opposition party SYRIZA had reacted when a Ukrainian man who said he was fighting with the far-right Azov Battalion joined an address by President Zelensky to the Greek Parliament via teleconference.

“Today we listened with respect and solidarity to the democratically elected President of Ukraine, Mr Zelensky, who resists the Russian invasion of Ukraine and to whom we express our support,” Olga Gerovasili, SYRIZA’s parliamentary group secretary was quoted as saying

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“Beyond that, however, it is unacceptable that today, together with President Zelenskyy, a member of the Azov Battalion also addressed the Greek Parliament,” she said. "Because I think that was a big mistake."

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People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy

The Azov Battalion is one of the most controversial units fighting with Ukrainian forces as it espouses right wing ideology, while showcasing Nazi symbols and focusing on white supremacist ideology.

Azov began as a military infantry unit made up of civilian volunteers drawn from far-right, neo-Nazi groups that were active in Ukraine, such as the Patriot of Ukraine gang and the Social National Assembly (SNA).

According to the Washington Post, the battalion’s far-right nationalist ideology has raised concerns that it is attracting extremists, including white supremacist neo-Nazis, who could pose a future threat.

“When Putin cast his assault on Ukraine as a quest to 'de-Nazify' the country, seeking to delegitimize the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian nationalism as fascist, he was partly referring to the Azov forces,” the Post reported.

“While they are now fighting for a Jewish president whose relatives were killed fighting the Nazis, they have continued to be fodder for Russian propaganda as Putin seeks to convince Russians that his costly invasion of Ukraine was necessary.”

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Clare Daly has been hailed as a 'voice of reason' on Russian State TV

Clare Daly has been hailed as a 'voice of reason' on Russian State TV

Clare Daly has been hailed as a 'voice of reason' on Russian State TV

Meanwhile, Russian state TV has seized on MEP Clare Daly's speech condemning sanctions against Russia and military aid for Ukraine as evidence of "eyes beginning to open" in the West, according to the BBC.

Ms Daly, along with her colleague Mick Wallace, was one of 13 MEPs who previously voted against a motion to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Speaking in the European Parliament on Wednesday, Ms Daly said sanctions against Russia have “unleashed economic devastation”, which she said will be “paid for” by the Russia people, including those “protesting against the war."

Francis Scarr of BBC Monitoring tweeted that Russian reaction to Ms Daly’s speech showed that she was introduced as a “voice of reason” on State TV.

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