Ireland shows Russian diplomat door over forgery claims

Dublin’s message to Israel following decision to oust Russian diplomat for alleged passport forgery is that Ireland is an equal opportunity expeller.

Dublin’s message to Israel following its decision Tuesday to oust a Russian diplomat for alleged passport forgery is that when it comes to these matters, Ireland is an equal opportunity expeller.
The Irish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying “there is an entirely persuasive picture of Russian intelligence service involvement in the manufacture and use of false documents based on the acquisition of details of six genuine passports belonging to Irish citizens.”
The statement said that a diplomat at the Russian Embassy has been asked to leave as a result.
The Russian manufactured fake Irish passports were allegedly used by members of a Russian espionage ring uncovered last year in the US, leading to the arrest of 10 people who were deported to Russia as part of a spy swap.
Last June, Ireland expelled an Israeli diplomat in reaction to the Dubai assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January 2010.
At the time, then-foreign minister Michael Martin stated that Dublin had not found any direct evidence connecting Israel to the use of Irish passports, but that the decision to expel the diplomat was prompted by evidence found by other countries whose passports had been forged, which implicated Israel in the act.
Eight Irish passports were allegedly used by the presumed hit squad that killed Mabhouh.
One Irish diplomatic official said Wednesday that the steps taken against the Russian diplomat showed that its decision to send an Israeli diplomat packing was not about any antagonism toward Israel, but rather about ensuring the integrity of Irish passports.
The concern in Dublin, the official said, was that if numerous countries forge Irish passports, it would become much more difficult for the average Irish citizen to travel the world.
Israeli diplomatic officials, meanwhile, denied that the move taken against the Russian diplomat showed that the Irish treated all passport forgers equally.
The announcement regarding Russia was made in the final days of a transition government, the officials said, and was not accompanied by passionate speeches in parliament and endless discussion in the media that accompanied the move against the Israeli diplomat.
While at the time it was reported that the Israeli asked to leave Dublin was a Mossad official, it later became known that this was not the case, since Israel did not have a Mossad representative in Ireland.
The Israeli official asked to leave is believed to have since been replaced by someone else.
While Israel did not retaliate for the Irish move at the time, the Russians are likely to act differently, with the Interfax news agency on Wednesday quoting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov as saying “This groundless and unfriendly act will not go without a corresponding reaction.”