Call for ban on Russian ships after Aughinish berthing abandoned

Independent TD Cathal Berry

THE government has been asked to ban all Russian ships from Irish territorial waters after a Russian cargo ship abandoned its attempt to collect a load of alumina from the Aughinish Alumina refinery near Askeaton last night.

The Pola Feodosia cargo ship, whose home port is St Petersburg, did a u-turn in the Shannon Estuary and, according to the marine traffic tracker website, was heading for Denmark.

Operated by Rusal, which is linked to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the Aughinish refinery employs more than 450 people and is Europe’s biggest alumina producer.

Independent TD Cathal Berry, who is a former Army Ranger,  has called for the exclusion of Russian aircraft from EU airspace to be extended to the EU’s maritime environment.

He said it would be preferable for such a move to be coordinated across the European Union but Ireland could act alone if necessary to begin a chain reaction across the EU.

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He accepted that such a move could put hundreds of Aughinish jobs at risk but he said the government could use pandemic payment-type supports to help those who may be affected.

Meanwhile, Gardaí are continuing to investigate what they describe as “an incident of criminal damage” at the Aughinish plant around 5pm last Sunday evening.

It is understood that paint was poured over the name sign, on a rock at the entrance to the refinery and a Garda spokesperson confirmed that no arrests have been made.