'Grateful' | 

Ukraine’s President Volodomyr Zelensky thanks Ireland in historic Dáil address

"You did not doubt helping us, you began doing this right away. And although you are a neutral country, you have not remained neutral to the disaster and to the mishaps Russia has brought to Ukraine."


Senan Molony and Edel Hughes

Ukraine’s President Volodomyr Zelensky expressed his gratitude to Ireland in a historic address to the Dáil and Seanad this morning.

He said: "People of Ireland: from the very first days you have supported Ukraine. I'm grateful to every citizen of Ireland."

"You did not doubt helping us, you began doing this right away. And although you are a neutral country, you have not remained neutral to the disaster and to the mishaps Russia has brought to Ukraine."

He also spoke of the latest bombing campaigns, alleged war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine and the plight of those trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

He received a standing ovation after he finished his speech which Taoiseach Micheal Martin described as a "heartfelt, honest, clear, and historic address."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl introduced the Ukrainian president, who spoke in his native language from his office in Kyiv.

His address lasted approximately 10 minutes and was simultaneously interpreted, with TDs, diplomats and guests listening to translations on headsets in the chamber.

Two members of the Ukrainian media witnessed proceedings.

Ukrainian refugees who fled the war attended the Dáil today to watch their president speak.

The distinguished visitors’ gallery was filled with members of the Ukrainian community and refugees, while diplomats from 45 countries will attend.

No one from the Russian Federation was in attendance.

The Taoiseach insisted yesterday that Irish non-lethal aid to Ukraine would continue, perhaps anticipating a request for lethal aid instead. Ireland has provided body armour and MRE rations to the Ukrainian armed forces thus far.

Micheál Martin also told the Dáil that in a recent phone call with Mr Zelensky, he found him “determined to express his gratitude to the Government and the people of Ireland for their support and in welcoming those fleeing the war”.

The president was also thankful “for our support for Ukraine’s application for European Union membership, and for the most robust and severe sanctions against the Russian Federation,” Mr Martin said.

He also expressed his condolences on the death of Pierre Zakrzewski, the Irish journalist killed in Ukraine, and is expected to repeat these sentiments in his speech today.

The Ceann Comhairle will respond to the speech, followed by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and leaders of the Green and Sinn Féin parties, who will have six minutes each. Smaller parties, such as the Social Democrats, PBP-Solidarity, Labour and three technical groups will have half this time apiece. The House is expected to then adjourn.

There were renewed calls in the Dáil ahead of the speech for the Russian Ambassador, Yuriy Filatov, to be expelled in light of the uncovering of the execution of bound civilians in Bucha and freshly-liberated villages north of Kyiv. Fianna Fáil’s Seán Haughey said Russia’s embassy in Orwell Road, Dublin, should be shuttered in the wake of the war crimes.

The Taoiseach responded saying he wholeheartedly supported the gathering of evidence about “appalling war crimes” involving the indiscriminate murder of civilians in Bucha and other towns in the environs of Kyiv.

“One is conscious also that in Mariupol and other cities, more horrendous situations may emerge,” he added.

“I have trust in the international system to bring Russian war criminals to justice.”

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