Ireland’s deputy leader and foreign affairs minister Micheal Martin has addressed a crowd of Ukrainian nationals and their supporters to mark the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion.
Hundreds gathered outside Dublin’s famous GPO building on O’Connell Street on Friday draped in the yellow and blue colours of the Ukrainian flag, donning flower crowns and holding up signs calling for an end to the war.
They chanted “Thank you Ireland” and “Slava Ukraini” and the Ukrainian national anthem and Irish anthem were played before speakers addressed the crowd, including the Ukrainian Ambassador Larysa Gerasko and political leaders.
Mr Martin was applauded after stating that Ireland’s friendship would be extended “for as long as you need”.
He said that it was outside the GPO that Ireland’s republic was proclaimed, and pledged that Ireland would continue to support Ukraine in its application for EU membership.
Although he said that Ireland was militarily neutral, Mr Martin added “we are not politically or morally neutral” when international law is broken and war crimes are committed.
“To those who have arrived here from Ukraine, I hope that you have found in Ireland safe harbour and friendship for as long as you need,” he said.
“Most of you, I know, look forward to the day when you can return to a peaceful and free Ukraine, to the family and friends you have left behind.
“That day will come. In the meantime, our home is your home.”
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said the gathering was “a demonstration of our unwavering unity and solidarity with Ukraine”.
She added: “There can be no victory for Russian military aggression over Ukraine sovereignty, no victory for a power that brazenly violates international law. So Putin must immediately withdraw his army and end his criminal invasion.
“You’ve shown the world that you will not give way to Putin’s onslaught. Today, against all of the odds and in the face of immense brutality, you hold your country. Long may you hold your country.
“I believe that Ukraine will win out.”
Two men who had fought the Russian army and are now receiving treatment for their injuries in Ireland also addressed the crowd briefly in Ukrainian.
It comes as the Central Statistics Office released figures on Friday that show there are 75,000 Ukrainian nationals in Ireland; around two-thirds of the total are in State-provided or pledged accommodation.
The Dublin demonstration is one of several being held across Ireland to mark the anniversary of the invasion.