President Michael D Higgins has been criticised for ignoring “basic” questions about his views on the war in Ukraine. 

In a letter to the Irish Times last week, the President’s wife, Sabina Higgins, said she had been “disappointed” that a recent editorial in the newspaper “did not encourage any ceasefire negotiations that might lead towards a peace settlement between the Russians, the Ukrainian forces and the separatists.

“Until the world persuades President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine to agree to a ceasefire and negotiations, the long haul of terrible war will go on. How can there be any winner?”

A link to the letter was also published on the official website of Áras an Uachtaráin but later deleted. 

2J2TGK5 Kyiv, Ukraine. 03rd Apr, 2022. Ukrainian soldier inspects the wreckage of a destroyed Russian armored column on a road in Bucha. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa USA/Alamy Live News

‘Basic questions’

Following calls for the President to clarify his views on the conflict, Mr Higgins issued a statement to the press:

“The record shows President Higgins has been unequivocal in his condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from his original statement on 1 March,” he said. 

“He has repeatedly condemned what he has described as the illegal, immoral and unjustifiable Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“He has called for an immediate Russian withdrawal and an end to the violence.”

However, Fine Gael Senator John McGahon believes the President still has questions to answer: 

“The letter and statement that he put out yesterday in response I believe that answers nothing,” he complained to Newstalk. 

“There’s still very basic questions; his statement is bland, it’s generic.” 

2HWXR2J 07.03.2022, Berlin, Germany, Europe – Place of refuge for war refugees from the Ukraine after their arrival at Berlin Central Station.

While a Ukrainian MP described Mrs Higgins as “underinformed”

“I do understand that it is extremely easy to comment on the war when you are not inside the war, and when it is not your country that is being attacked,” Kira Rudik told Newstalk. 

“And as a country that has been at war with Russia for the last eight years, we definitely know that it is not enough for one side to want peace – it needs to be mutual.”

Main image: President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina arrive at St Kevins Church in Glendalough, Co Wicklow in October 2021. Picture by: Damien Eagers / RollingNews.ie