Trading carefully: As the world cuts ties with Russia, should Ireland be taking a firmer line with other rogue nations?

The government acted swiftly and forcefully after Russia invaded Ukraine, but Ireland continues to develop trade links with countries like Saudi Arabia and China, which stand accused of grave human rights abuses. Experts say it’s time we started to question this approach, but any change would have major economic consequences

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern reviews an army guard of honour from the People’s Liberation Army with the then premier of China Zhu Rongji at the great wall of China in 1998. Picture: Photocall Ireland

Bertie Ahern marvelled at his surroundings as the first notes of Amhrán na bhFiann were heard around Tiananmen Square. It was September 1998, and Irish tricolours adorned the Beijing landmark as a 19-gun salute marked a meeting of Irish dignitaries with Chinese premier Zhu Rongji. Looming in the background was the smiling visage of Chairman Mao Zedong.

“You couldn’t help but be rolling your mind back over how many people and how many students were killed there,” Ahern told the Business Post last week.