invasion | 

Irishman in Ukraine describes the panic in Kiev as he desperately tries to return to Ireland

The Louth man is trying to get his family to safety as fears mount

People line up to withdraw their money from an ATM in Mariupol, Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Clodagh Meaney

An Irishman living in Ukraine has described the panic in the capital Kiev today as Russia launched an invasion overnight.

Businessman Brendan Murphy told Newstalk Breakfast that people have begun to seek safety after Russia launched a “full-scale invasion” of their neighbours.

“People are relocating because as you know Putin has bombed multiple cities and of course he is going to bomb substantially more,” he said.

“People are concerned about that and of course people are trying to move to locations that are safe. But then, the Ukrainian people, we have no choice, you have to fight.”

Mr Murphy, who lives in Kiev with his wife Marina described how people are getting more and more concerned as the day goes on.

“I can see now the panic is beginning, people are trying to get money from banks and things so people are beginning to kind of do everything they can.”

Brendan has been trying to get emergency visas so that himself and his family, including Marina’s mother and daughter, can flee to safety.

He was unable to organise visas in time and will now follow advice issued by the Ukrainian government.

He criticised the Irish government for failing to follow other European countries and make travel from Ukraine to Ireland visa-free as an emergency measure.

“Yesterday, we tried to get the documents but my mother-in-law, who is 80, became stressed and unwell and she couldn’t walk and she fell so we needed to bring her back,” he explained.

“They had offered to send someone to do the documents at her home but that is not going to happen now so the first thing we need to do is to relocate out of the city centre where the missiles will strike whenever Putin decides to bomb Kyiv and then we’ll see what we are advised to do.”

Brendan Murphy with wife Marina

He went on to praise the Ukrainian government for their organised and calm approach to helping citizens.

“We want to follow the Government orders. The Government is very organised, very calm with good information, but obviously, systems that were relied on like taxis and public transport are not able to support anybody wanting to relocate.”

He said his family would have left the country days ago but were unable to do so without valid visas.

“The window of opportunity is now very narrow because obviously there are no flights. Obviously it is an active war zone.”

“Traffic will be potentially problematic depending on what happens next. Some roads are impassable but others are free so people are not, kind of, fleeing… but they will begin to obviously.”

Mr Murphy, from Co. Louth, is the director of Corporate Leadership Group LLC, a business consultancy service.

He called for global governments to impose strong sanctions on Russia.

“Everything, I mean everything, every single Russian-related asset needs to be frozen and investigated regardless of the cost, because the cost being paid in Ukraine’s blood and there is no currency greater than blood.”

He also said that Ireland must completely stop all trade with Russia.

“What happens now and what happens tomorrow is more important than the past, but they do have to do something very substantive today and tomorrow before more people are killed by rockets and bombs and missiles which are coming into Ukraine and bombing cities and towns.”

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