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Neutrality does not exempt Ireland from Russian attacks – Kelly

Published: Wed, 04 May 2022

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Seán Kelly MEP has warned that “neutrality per se does not mean that you are exempt from Russian attacks” during a European Parliament debate on EU preparedness against cyber-attacks following Russia invasion on Ukraine during a plenary session in Strasbourg this week. The Ireland South MEP said “cyber-defence should be a priority, which means investment”.

Addressing the European Commission and fellow MEPs, MEP Kelly said: “cyber-attacks from Russia did not start on 24 February, nor will they end when the war ends in Ukraine. Europe must be prepared for the war to expand online, with critical infrastructure at risk. As technology advances and becomes further intertwined into our economies and infrastructure, we must be aware that cyber-threats are also rapidly evolving in nature and sophistication”.

“The EU and all Member States need a digital security architecture to defend us robustly against cyber-attacks.

“Ireland is a neutral country. Yet in May 2021, our health-care systems suffered the biggest cyber-attack in the history of the State. This affected most of the country’s health services, including coronavirus testing, maternal care services, cancer care, COVID-19 tracking and routine referrals for secondary care at a time when the whole system was under pressure.

“This, it appears, was at the hands of Russian hackers and criminals. This has led to a shift in thinking in Ireland, as we have seen that neutrality per se does not mean that you are exempt from Russian attacks.

“We have to take our defence much more seriously, within the confines of neutrality. Cyber-defence should be a priority, which means investment. That is what we must do”, underlined MEP Kelly.


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