Irish Government does not believe war in Ukraine is inevitable, says Harris

The Irish Government does not believe that war in Ukraine is inevitable, Simon Harris has said.

But the Minister for Further and Higher Education said the situation in the country was being monitored on an “hourly basis” amid fears of a Russian invasion.

On Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs updated its guidance to Irish citizens in Ukraine, advising them to leave immediately.

The department has said around 50 Irish citizens have registered with their embassy in Kyiv.

Mr Harris told RTÉ’s This Week programme: “The Irish position, the European position, the position of so many countries right across the world is that war is not inevitable.

“It is never inevitable until it happens and diplomacy should continue to be pursued.

“But every government also has a duty of care towards its citizens, and it would be utterly irresponsible for the Irish Government not to pass on that best advice and best thinking to our own citizens.”


He added: “Obviously Ireland is monitoring the situation on an hourly basis, including engaging with our European colleagues.

“If you see what is happening now across a number of European countries and indeed the United States, the advice seems to be quite consistent now about the importance of people leaving the Ukraine, or indeed if you were considering travelling to the Ukraine to not proceed in relation to that.

“We have a duty of care to Irish citizens to pass on the best advice and best thinking as we receive it.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

“My colleague Minister (Simon) Coveney also spoke to the Irish Ambassador in Kyiv and Ireland will be continuing to maintain an embassy presence in Ukraine.

“If you are an Irish person living in Ukraine or an Irish person thinking of travelling to Ukraine the advice is clear, but do please also know you can link in with our embassy service there.”

“There are about 50 Irish citizens registered with our embassy in Kyiv and Irish people are in Kyiv for a variety of reasons, some are working with international organisations, some with family connections, some there for business, some for medical reasons too.

“There are a variety of reasons why Irish people are in Kyiv and in Ukraine and different people will have different circumstances, but the advice from Government is clear, it is the advice you should not travel to Ukraine and if you are in the Ukraine the advice is to return home.”


A small number of Irish parents are currently waiting for babies to be born to surrogates in Ukraine.

Mr Harris said: “This is an extremely sensitive and challenging issues.

“I saw a figure of about 14 babies due to be born in a very short period of time.

“What we are doing is engaging at a foreign affairs level individually with those families.”