THE Taoiseach has moved to reassure 450 workers at the Aughinish Alumina refinery in Askeaton, who are concerned for their jobs, that UK war sanctions imposed on the plant’s part-owner Oleg Deripaska have no legal effect in Ireland.
However, there is concern that should the EU decide to impose sanctions against Mr Deripaska, who owns a 49.9 per cent stake in Aughinish, it could threaten the future of the refinery which has created around 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region.
A spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said that the UK Government sanctions against a number of named individuals, including Mr Deripaska, have no legal effect in Ireland or the European Union.
“Ireland is fully committed to the full implementation of the comprehensive EU sanctions packages adopted to date. The European Union has not introduced any sanctions targeting Mr Deripaska or his holdings,” she added.
“EU sanctions are elements of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and an EU competence. Therefore, Ireland cannot and does not introduce unilateral measures.”
The Taoiseach’s spokeswoman said that although there is currently no indication of any jobs impact in the Aughinish Alumina plant, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment will continue to monitor the situation with regard to any potential implications of these sanctions to companies in Ireland.
She said the Government is keen that the plant continue to operate.
Prior to Wednesday’s announcement by the British government that they had included Mr Deripaska on a sanctions list in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US government had imposed on Aughinish in 2018.
In 2019 Mr Deripaska, who is reported to have close links with Russian President Vladimir Putin, reduced his controlling stake in Aughinish to just below 50 per cent.
The Irish government has consistently argued that any sanctions against Aughinish could threaten jobs at the plant and adversely impact global aluminium markets.
Aughinish, which has its own port located near Foynes, is the largest alumina processing plant in Europe, importing bauxite from Guinea and Brazil and exporting alumina to be refined into aluminum metals at smelters around the world.