The Taoiseach has rejected suggestions that the Government has been embarrassed by the controversy surrounding Sabina Higgins' letter on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement yesterday, Ms Higgins, the wife of President Michael D Higgins, moved to clarify comments she made in a letter to the Irish Times in which she called on Russia and Ukraine to negotiate and agree a ceasefire.
The letter had been published on the President.ie official website, before being removed.
Micheál Martin said Ms Higgins clarified the issue in her statement, as did her husband in his statement.
"Everything has to be kept in perspective," he said.
Mr Martin said we live in a democracy and people are entitled to their views, adding that the position of the Irish Government on the war in Ukraine is very clear.
"Sabina Higgins has clarified the situation in terms of her statement. I think the President also, to be fair, reiterated his strong condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine," Mr Martin said.
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"The Irish Government's position has been consistent from the outset and remains the position that the invasion is both illegal and immoral and is a terrible act against the people of Ukraine."
The Taoiseach has rejected suggestions that the Government has been embarrassed by the controversy surrounding Sabina Higgins' letter on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Micheál Martin said Ms Higgins clarified the issue in her statement. | https://t.co/eGR314KoVO pic.twitter.com/YgtsjcpmXS— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 3, 2022
Mr Martin added that Ireland's position "along with others in the European Union is unequivocal that Russian should withdraw, at a minimum, to the position before the war started".
"The fundamental point is that I don’t think anyone is in any doubt about the Irish Government’s position on the war in Ukraine. I don’t think the Ukrainian government is. I’ve been there. I’ve spoken with President Zelensky," Mr Martin said.
Asked about Ms Higgins posting material on the President’s website, the Taoiseach said this is not the first time the spouse of the President has posted material on the website, the practice has built up over the years.
"I think we need to understand that this practice has build up over the years," he said.
"What is clear though is that the Government’s position hasn’t changed nor do I believe that in terms of the Ukrainian government, or people generally, I think are well aware of our position as articulated at the UN Security Council on a consistent basis."
In her statement, Ms Higgins said that since 2014 she has had a dedicated section on the President's official website, which contains details of the activities she has been undertaking.
Ms Higgins said that last week a number of people had missed her letter in the newspaper and were not able to access it online, so she put it on her section of the website.
However, she said she took it down when people saw it as being presented from the general President.ie website.
President Higgins issued a statement at the weekend reiterating his condemnation of the war in Ukraine following criticism of his wife for writing the letter.
Earlier, a Fianna Fáil senator called on Ms Higgins to apologise for posting her own private opinion on the President's official website.
Senator Erin McGreehan said she welcomed Ms Higgins' statement yesterday, but called on her to apologise for posting her own opinion on the President's official website.
She also demanded clarity on why, as she put it, a private citizen's opinion was published there.
Additional reporting: Una Kelly