Family of man killed in Ukraine insist he was ‘against all forms of imperialism’

Finbar Cafferkey’s brother Colm issues statement after Russian embassy said Irish government and media have been ‘distorting the truth about the conflict in Ukraine’

The family of Finbar Cafferkey, who was killed in Ukraine, have paid tribute to him, insisting he was “against all forms of imperialism, be it US, British, or Russian”.

The statement comes after a recent statement from the Russia’s Irish embassy criticised as threatening and “chilling”.

Finbar (40s) had recently travelled to Ukraine to assist local forces in Ukraine. He took part in the Shell to Sea protests against the Corrib Gas project and, in later years, worked in Copenhagen on a construction project and has been described in online tributes as a “respected activist”.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin also described Mr Cafferkey, who was from Achill Island, Co Mayo, as a “man of clear principles”.


But in a direct response to Mr Martin’s comments, the Russian embassy said Ireland would be viewed as a “direct participant” to the conflict in Ukraine, if the remarks signified support for Irish people to travel to fight with Ukrainian forces.

The embassy also said the Irish Government and media “bear responsibility” for the death of Finbar Cafferkey.

On Saturday night, Finbar’s brother Colm issued a statement on behalf of the Cafferkey’s family.

“My brother Finbar has always been fair minded, strong willed, and unafraid.

“He stood against all forms of imperialism, be it US, British, or Russian, and was strongly opposed to Ireland’s support of US troops and any moves towards joining Nato.

“He was in Ukraine to help the Ukrainian people, as he would have helped any person in the world who was under attack. I loved him and always admired his clear eyed bravery. We would like to reiterate our request for privacy as we are deeply grieving the loss of Finbar.”

Achill GAA club extended its sympathies to the Cafferkey family. Finbar is the older brother of the club’s joint manager Colm Cafferkey.

“The Cafferkey family have a long and proud connection with Achill GAA. Finbar, his father Tom, his mother Celine, brothers Colm and Eamon and sisters Maeve and Orla have all played, coached, and been very generous sponsors and supporters from their time as proprietors of Ted Lavelle’s Pub - through good times and bad,” the club said in a statement.

“Finbar was widely known, liked, and respected by generations of players. Indeed many of those who are still wearing the green and white of Achill today would call him a friend. Many the time after a match the Achill team would retire to Ted Lavelle’s and were greeted warmly and with a firm handshake by Finbar who would want to know all about the match and the craic. He was extremely quick witted and great company who could hold court in any setting - status didn’t matter to Finbar, everyone was equal in his mind.

In Colm’s words, Finbar was “fair minded, strong willed and unafraid” and I don’t think we could say it any better than that.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs responded on Saturday to the Russian embassy’s statement and said that the Government’s position “in respect of Russia’s brutal and illegal aggression against Ukraine is crystal clear”.

“Ireland’s support for Ukraine is unwavering. Russian Disinformation will have no impact on this,” a spokesman said.

“The Government’s view is that diplomatic channels between Ireland and the Russian Federation should remain open,” he said.

It added that keeping the Irish embassy in Moscow open was in the best interest of Irish citizens living in the country, as well as five Asian countries who also rely on the embassy for consular support, the statement said.