Veteran journalist Charlie Bird was among hundreds of protesters who gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Dublin today to mark the month-old anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
he former RTE reporter who is bravely battling motor neuron disease said he and his wife Claire attended the rally to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
“If I were still a journalist, I would be out there,” he said of reporting the war.
“I may not be there in person, but I’m there in spirit,” he said.
The Stand with Ukraine rally, organized by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), opened with the singing of Ukraine’s national anthem and was heard by the ambassadors of Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Georgia.
It ended with a minute’s silence in honor of those killed and injured during the war and those living in the war zone.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerakso, condemned the invasion and continued bombing of her homeland and called on the Irish government to expel those she described as so-called Russian “diplomats” from the embassy on Orwell Road in Rathgar.
“Today has passed a month since the beginning of this terrible and terrible war. A month of struggle, resistance of Ukrainians. A month of deep suffering, a month of Russian attacks, a month of murders by Russians,” she said.
“They destroyed our cities, our cities, our infrastructure. They keep killing Ukrainians, our children, our future,” she said.
Nick, a Ukrainian national who works at the Ukraine Crisis Center in Dublin, sounded an air raid siren outside the embassy “to let people at the Russian embassy know how it is for the frightened people living in the war zone.
“Sometimes the sirens don’t stop for hours,” he said of the constant threat of Russian missiles in Ukraine.
He said that since the invasion began, six and a half million Ukrainians have been displaced and the atrocities committed by the Russians are getting worse by the day.
“In Kharkiv, a family was shot dead waving a white flag,” he said.
“A newborn baby was found dead in a hospital that was bombed,” he said.
Lithuanian Ambassador to Ireland Marijus Gudynas paid tribute to “these Ukrainian heroes fighting for the freedom of Ukraine, the freedom of my country and the world”.
“Our hearts bleed when we see what is happening in Ukraine,” he said.
Polish Ambassador to Ireland Anna Sochanska said she was proud that Poland opened its borders within just four hours of the invasion, allowing Ukrainians a safe haven.
“Those who kill pregnant women, children and the like older people are not just war criminals, they are cowards,” she said.
And Georgia’s ambassador to Ireland, George Zurabashvili, said his homeland, which was occupied by Russia in 2008, knows only too well “the cruelty of the Russians.”
Meanwhile, ICTU President Kevin Callinan said: “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly said that the attack on Ukraine is an attack on democracy across Europe. An attack on us all.”
“This is a concept that we as trade unionists fully understand and support. For us, an injury to one is always an injury to all.”
Ukrainian refugee Katya Kholiavinska, 28, who fled her home in Zhytomyr, in northern Ukraine near Belarus on March 7, fought back tears as she showed Independent.ie a photo of her father, who was living in Ukraine army and fighting for the freedom of his country.
But her family – including her mother, sister and grandparents – who remain in Ukraine have no idea where he is, she said.
While her parents urged her to flee after a local school was bombed and she was able to stay with her aunt in Blanchardstown, north Dublin, she said the situation was not ideal.
“I want to go home right now,” she said. “It’s very hard.”
Meanwhile, Rathgar resident Brendan Flynn, 61, said he held a silent vigil outside the embassy, which is up the road from his home.
Holding up a Ukrainian flag given to him by a taxi driver, the retired engineer said he will continue to join the small group of protesters who gather outside the embassy every day to show solidarity with Ukraine.
“I’m just a flagpole,” he said.
“But I want the Russians to come and go to see the flag,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/charlie-bird-joins-hundreds-of-demonstrators-to-denounce-first-month-of-russian-invasion-of-ukraine-41484830.html Charlie Bird joins hundreds of protesters to denounce the first month of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine