Gardaí give unclaimed stolen bikes to Ukrainian refugees

Paul McQuaid and River Cycles present 500th refurbished bike to Odesa woman

Stolen or lost bicycles recovered by An Garda Síochána are to be donated to Ukrainian refugees through a Dublin bike shop which has been refurbishing bikes for Ukrainians since March.

Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko on Thursday presented the 500th bike refurbished by Paul McQuaid of River Cycles to Tetiana Alimbochko who came from Odesa with her 16-year-old son Valintine.

Mr McQuaid, who has in recent months been restoring bikes donated by the public for Ukrainians, said he would be receiving 200 bikes from Ballymun Garda station in the coming days.

“The gardaí contacted me out of the blue, and made the offer of bikes that they have been unable to reunite with their owners after exhausting all avenues of inquiry,” Mr McQuaid said. “The demand for bikes from Ukrainians is still huge, so this will be a really big help.”


A Garda spokesman said the donation initiative was a community engagement project instigated by Ballymun Garda station.

“All of the bikes have been in possession of An Garda Síochána in excess of a year and it has not been possible to identify owners for them. Unclaimed property in the possession of An Garda Síochána is disposed of after a year and a day.”

Ms Gerasko said the donation of bikes was an “amazing initiative”.

“That all these people have donated their bicycles is wonderful, and we are very grateful also to Paul for his generosity in doing this work”.

Ms Alimbochko, a chiropractor living with an Irish family in Dalkey, said the bike would allow her to get to work in Dún Laoghaire. “We chose Ireland because it is the first English-speaking country that was accepting Ukrainians and my son speaks very good English,” she said. “What we did not expect is how very, very kind everyone would be.”

Ms Alimbochko said she was keen for Irish people to know that while Odesa was predominately Russian-speaking, residents of all backgrounds remained opposed to the Russian invasion. “War is no different whether you are Ukrainian-speaking or Russian-speaking, war is unacceptable.”

Nadia Prokhorova, who collected a tricycle for her three-year-old daughter Vira said, while she had received great support in Ireland, she was anxious to return to Odesa.

“My husband had to stay behind. I haven’t seen him since February 27th, although we talk on Skype every day, and that helps me survive, but it is getting worse and worse every day. For now he is alive and he is healthy but I cannot say he is absolutely safe.”

Dutch Ambassador to Ireland Adriaan Palm, who also visited River Cycles on Thursday on the eve of World Bicycle Day, said he had seen the popularity of bicycles while living in Ukraine.

“I lived in Ukraine from 1997 to 2000 and I know how much people in Ukraine like to cycle,” he said. “With World Bike Day on June 3rd, it is fantastic to come here and see the smiles on people’s faces who are receiving bikes, especially the young children who have suffered such trauma.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times