Senior garda responds to passport controversy during Donegal visit

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has described the use of data from several Irish passports by members of a Russian spy ring uncovered in the US earlier this year as “disturbing”.

Gardaí are investigating the use of the passports, including one belonging to a volunteer with an Irish charity which works with orphans in Russia.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said in Donegal yesterday that as many as six Irish passports may be involved.

Mr Martin said the full details of the use of Irish passports had yet to be established. However, he said the revelations were a matter of concern.

US investigators broke up the spy ring in June with the arrest of 10 people in New York, Boston, New Jersey and Virginia. All 10, who were later deported as part of a spy swap deal with Russia, admitted conspiring to act as unregistered foreign agents.

Debbie Deegan, managing director of To Russia With Love, has confirmed that the Garda last week contacted a female volunteer with the charity to inform her that her passport had been compromised.

In July, Eunan Gerard Doherty, from Carndonagh, was interviewed by Garda after it emerged his passport details were used by one of the 10 agents. Mr Doherty, a part-time fireman, had travelled to Russia on holiday in 2005. It is understood his wife Maureen has been told by Garda that her passport may also have been compromised.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said investigations by the gardaí and the Passport Office were ongoing