“Our home is your home” – Taoiseach tells people of Ukraine

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

Taoiseach Mícheál Martin assured Ukrainians that Ireland was a place of “safe harbour and friendship” by stressing that “our home is your home” as the eastern European nation experienced death and destruction from Russian aggression.

His remarks followed the Ukrainian President’s address to a joint sitting of the Oireachtas Wednesday morning on the 42nd day since the war was initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Ireland for its immediate support of Ukraine’s cause since the outbreak of war.

 “Although you are a neutral country, you have not remained neutral to the disaster and to the mishaps that Russia has brought to Ukraine. I’m grateful to you to every citizen of Ireland.

“Thank you for supporting sanctions against Russia. Thank you for the humanitarian and financial support extended to our country and thank you for your caring about Ukrainian people who found shelter on your land”, he stated.

He urged Ireland to convince the EU to impose even more sanctions on Russia. He also thanked the country for supporting Ukraine’s drive to join the EU.

The President emphasised that he wanted us to convince  our EU partners to introduce more rigid sanctions against Russia “that would really make sure that the Russian war machine will stop.”

President Zelensky opened his address by outlining the horrific scenes of war in Ukraine that are being caused by Russian troops, whom he accused of using hunger as a weapon and described as “trying to destroy everything that makes us Ukrainian”.

He said that Russia is intentionally provoking a food crisis and highlighted the importance of food export to Ukraine, asserting that food shortages will not only affect his country, but also the countries it supplies.

The Ukrainian president highlighted how Russian troops are blocking humanitarian access to half a million people in the city of Mariupol, where “no single house is left intact” following 24/7 bombing. He said that Russia has acted as a colonising army, calling for it to be “held responsible for everything they have done on Ukrainian soil”.

Stating that he “cannot tolerate indecisiveness” regarding the enforcement of sanctions on Russia, he thanked Ireland for its support and asked that the nation urgently show more leadership in pressuring for more rigid sanctions.

Highlighting the mutual understanding and respect between Ireland and Ukraine, President Zelensky expressed the hope that it will be “only a matter of time” before both countries are a part of a common home in the European Union and he expressed gratitude towards Ireland for its support in this bid.

“Let’s bring our efforts together and show that Ukraine and Ireland jointly can do much more than the biggest country of the world which is trying to destroy”, he said.

The Taoiseach reiterated Ireland’s support for Ukraine during this “humanitarian crisis”, highlighting that, although Ireland is militarily neutral, it is not “politically or morally neutral” and asserting that, “Putin will not, cannot succeed”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar,expressed Ireland’s anger at Russia’s “appalling human rights abuses” during the 42 days of war, describing its troops as having “raped and defiled principles of common humanity”.

Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, called for the expulsion of the Russian ambassador to Ireland, Yuri Filatov, stating that it would be “a most powerful action” and a stand for human rights and justice.

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