The ‘absolute courage’ of the Ukrainian people in their fight against ‘Russian occupation’ was praised by Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú last week at a special EU Affairs Committee meeting addressed by Ukraine’s ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko.
And he said that he understands that senior management at Louth County Council are holding a number of meetings this week with a view to ramping up the local response to Ukrainian refugees.
Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘We need information and plans in place as quickly as possible’.
In his contribution to the EU Affairs Committee debate on Ukraine’s application to join the EU, the Dundalk deputy saluted ‘the courage of the Ukrainian people’.
He said: ‘It is fair to say that all of us here and throughout the island stand in solidarity with them.
‘As Ms Gerasko stated, Ukraine is up against a criminal invasion and Russian occupation. We have seen absolute courage.
‘We also realise that it is an utterly changed and far smaller world than it was 20 or 30 years ago. We are all aware of Ukrainian families in our own areas. Many Ukrainians have gone back to fight.
‘Following on from this meeting, the most useful work we could do would be on the ambassador’s requests as regards language courses and access to community centres.
An awful lot of that can be done on an ad hoc basis but it would be far better if this committee took a hands-on approach and corresponded with the witnesses on that.
‘We need doctors who can deal with kids and families with PTSD. While we are currently dealing with 5,000 or 6,000 people, the numbers are bound to become much greater’.
Deputy Ó Murchú said that the worse the war gets for Russia, the greater the number of refugees.
He said Ireland should ‘help and facilitate properly’ the speeding up of Ukrainian membership of the European Union.
He asked the ambassador where she saw peace talks going and whether there is anything Ukraine needs Ireland to do ‘in order to cut off Russia’s ability to fight this absolutely criminal war’.
In response, Ambassador Gerasko said she had passed a list of companies with Russian trade links to the Department of Foreign Affairs. She also asked for the expulsion of Russian diplomats and for seaports to be closed to Russian and Russian-linked goods carriers.
In a private meeting afterwards, the committee agreed to follow up on the ambassador’s requests and to ascertain what is the current status of the companies’ list given to the Department of Foreign Affairs and what action is being taken.