“THE first tears to dry are the tears of gratitude,” circus Greatest Show on Earth promoter PT Barnum famously said.
Hose cynical words come to mind as I listen Volodymyr Zelenskyy‘s support ratings for the various EU member states.
In his ranking, President Zelensky gave Ireland what sounds like a reluctant “Got to try harder”. On the other hand, apart from Poland on the front line and the three Baltic states constantly threatened by Russia, the rankings of most other EU countries offered little to bask in.
Addressing an EU summit in Brussels via video link, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy particularly praised Poland and the three Baltic countries – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – for their full support in the fight against Vladimir Putin’s Russian invaders.
President Zelenskyy said openly that EU kingpins France and Germany could do more to help. If you read a transcript of his summary of the others, only Cyprus and perhaps Italy come through with flying colours, while comments on the others are hardly ringing endorsements.
“Luxembourg – we understand each other. Cyprus – I truly believe you are on our side. Italy – thanks for your support! Spain – we will find common ground. Belgium – we will find arguments. Austria, together with the Ukrainians, it’s a chance for them, I’m sure.”
His statements about this country – “Ireland – well, almost” – sounded quite critical, even if the Taoiseach rejected this view of things. Michael Martin said the Ukrainian leader appreciated Ireland’s aid efforts and was particularly grateful for Irish support UkraineApplication for EU membership.
Still, many Irish people will ponder these words and genuinely wonder that they feel offended. The PT Barnum comes alive and gratitude has its appeal in this situation.
It seems reasonable to reflect with a little dismay at the lorries being loaded by Irish volunteers in every corner of the country, the over €2million quickly raised after a Late Late Show Appeal on RTÉ TV and many other Irish endeavors.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar tells us that by the end of next month Ireland is expected to take in 40,000 Ukrainians who are fleeing the war and have been displaced from their homes. To put that in context, that number will increase Ireland’s population by nearly 1 percent in a matter of weeks.
This will be the largest humanitarian effort by the Irish State at a time of housing crisis and huge ongoing public health problems. Such efforts seem to be little more than a rating of “almost”.
Still, it’s important to look at things from the other side.
On Thursday, Irish EU Commissioner Mairéad McGuinness had a video call with Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko.
“The minister has not told me where he is speaking from in Ukraine, a clear sign that he and his fellow ministers are being threatened by Russia,” Commissioner McGuinness said.
One of the Treasury Secretary’s duties is reminiscent of Michael Collins at the height of the Irish War of Independence. Mr Marchenko is attracting investment to sustain Ukraine’s war effort, notably by allowing EU investors to buy Ukrainian war bonds.
After talking for half an hour, Ms McGuinness said she was very impressed. “The stoicism of the minister and Ukrainian citizens is remarkable. Despite the horror inflicted on them, morale in the country is generally strong, the Minister told me,” said Ms McGuinness.
Efforts to continue life in Ukraine continue. Despite the Russian invasion, Mr. Marchenko confirmed that the financial system is working. Ms McGuinness also pointed out that support will be given to the agricultural sector to encourage spring planting of crops, which is essential not only for Ukraine’s economy but also for the global food supply chain.
Before we get too angry with Ukraine and President Zelenskyy, let’s consider the bigger picture and the grim realities of the war.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/as-ireland-undertakes-its-greatest-ever-humanitarian-effort-such-endeavours-deserve-more-than-an-almost-rating-41487102.html As Ireland embarks on its largest humanitarian effort yet, such efforts deserve more than an ‘almost’ rating