Russia’s Ambassador to Ireland has used Irish national radio to protest against the Irish government’s move to block a planned three-storey extension to the Russian embassy in Rathgar, a southern suburb of Dublin.
The extension had previously been approved by the county council of DÃºn Laoghaire-Rathdown.
Interviewed on national broadcaster RTÃ‰’s "Drivetime" evening radio programme on Monday, Yuriy Filatov said the government was "playing games" and "pursuing its hidden agenda".
His comments followed a report in The Irish Independent on Friday that said then-housing minister Eoghan Murphy (pictured) had quietly invoked a new law during the Covid-19 lockdown that allowed him to scrap planning permissions deemed "likely to be harmful to the security and defence of the State and the State’s relations with other states".
On the radio, Filatov described this as a "ridiculous accusation".
He said "it was an open and transparent project from very beginning" and that that there is nothing secretive going on.
According to Filatov, the extension was to include a consular section for Irish and Russian citizens that could also include two blocks of apartments.
He said the council had the blueprints.
There was nothing in the project that "could even remotely be linked the issue of security, particularly to the security and defence of the Irish State", he said.
He added that the Russian construction firm – the main contractor for the Russian government – had hired many Irish workers for the job.
In its report, The Irish Independent said the minister’s decision had sparked "a major diplomatic row".
Image: Eoghan Murphy, Ireland’s housing minister until June 2020, pictured in 2013 (OSCE Parliamentary Assembly/CC BY-SA 2.0)