Dublin shows Solidarity with Ukraine

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

Up to 2,000 people took to Dublin’s O’Connell Street last Saturday to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Members of Ireland’s Ukrainian community addressed the crowd, expressing their fear for their loved ones who remain fighting or trapped in their native land. Larysa Gerasko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, warned her country may be “at the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe”.

Speakers gathered in front of the GPO, the epicentre that acted as headquarters for the leaders of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. Last Saturday, 10 days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the iconic building was not the backdrop for attempted Irish independence but for an appeal for the protection of Ukraine and its people and for the condemnation of Russia’s military actions.

Read more in this weeks Dublin Gazette out in stores now

Chants of “stand with Ukraine”, “stop the war now” and “shelter our skies” rippled through the crowd intermittently, with many calling on Nato to implement a no-fly zone around Ukraine. On the same day, an agreed ceasefire to evacuate residents from two cities in Ukraine rapidly fell apart as, according to Ukrainian officials, shelling continued shortly after the announcement of the deal.

Earlier that morning, a moment of silence was held for Ukraine at the National Women’s Council’s ‘No Woman Left Behind’ rally outside of Leinster House, where it was stated that this year’s International Women’s Day would offer little in the way of celebration in light of the suffering of Ukraine and its people.

Female ambassadors based in Ireland joined the Polish ambassador, Anna Sochańska, on International Women’s Day, March 8, stating in a united voice: “We stand with the women of Ukraine”, then repeating the message in the languages of their countries of origin.

On Monday of this week, representatives across all parties gathered together before the monthly Dublin City Council meeting to declare a message of unity, with Councillor Daithí Doolan, stating: “Many issues divide political parties, but on this important issue we speak in one strong voice.”

Sinn Féin has tabled an emergency motion, which has been signed by members of the Labour Party, Green Party, Social Democrats, Fianna Fail and the independents.

The council called on the international community, with particular emphasis on the European Union, to show active solidarity with the Ukrainian people and for the strongest possible sanctions to be taken against Vladimir Putin and Russia.

“As a state that is militarily neutral and not a member of any military alliance, we believe the Irish government can play a positive role in the EU and on the UN Security Council against this war and for a negotiated settlement based on self-determination and international law”, Councillor Doolan said.

The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has announced that a unit to meet refugees from Ukraine as they arrive at airports and ports in Ireland will be established to help to accommodate some of the estimated 1.7m people who have thus far fled Ukraine.

The government has established an online portal through the Irish Red Cross for anyone in Ireland who wants to register and offer accommodation to Ukrainian refugees. In what has been called the largest humanitarian response in Irish history, 2,500 Irish people have pledged to take in Ukrainian refugees.

On Monday, the Taoiseach said that about 1,800 Ukrainian refugees had already arrived in Ireland, 486 of whom had landed over the weekend. The Minister of State in the Department of Justice James Browne has estimated that as many as 80,000 Ukrainian may seek refuge in Ireland.

GoFundMe has highlighted the generosity of the Irish people in response to the war, with over €1.5m donated to Irish fundraisers to date. Nearly €500,000 has been raised by a group of Ukrainian doctors working in the Irish healthcare system to assist Ukrainian hospitals and medical staff, while a campaign to help five-year-old Leonid receive a bone marrow transplant treatment has raised over €65,000. 

Three friends raised close to €30,000, travelling to the Ukrainian border in Poland to bring urgently needed food and medical supplies. A further €230,000 has gone towards helping Ukrainians with disabilities to flee and supporting those who cannot evacuate.

The Beacon hospital has allocated an area in the main ambulance bay entrance for collecting general supplies, such as toiletries, sanitary products, torches and headlights, sleeping bag, tinned food and baby nappies.

Michael Cullen, CEO, commented: “Tens of thousands of families are being forcibly displaced or have had their homes destroyed. Thousands more are fleeing in search of safety. Right now, the humanitarian needs are huge and are likely to increase.”

Supplies can be dropped to the collection point at any time during the week, including weekends. The Beacon has an information section on its main hospital website but further enquires can be emailed to [email protected] For large deliveries or pallets, contact Damien Meaney on 087 188 8532.

People who would like to pledge accommodation to Ukrainian refugees in Ireland can do so on registerofpledges.redcross.ie.

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