Ukrainians in Ireland ‘very proud’ following Zelenskiy’s address to Oireachtas

‘His speech was very powerful ... it makes us feel that it’s not only us on the streets’

Ukrainians in Ireland were proud of the "powerful" address their preisdent Volodymyr Zelenskiy made to a joint sitting of the Houses of the Oireachtas seeking support following the Russian invasion, Elizabeth Karamushka said.

A native of Kyiv who has been living in Ireland for eight years, Ms Karamushka was in the Dáil chamber on Wednesday to hear the address as it was delivered via video link and felt “very proud” of what he said.

"His speech was very powerful. To hear him say what we have been saying at protests and call for the things we want to see from the Irish Government was really great," she said.

“It makes us feel that it’s not only us on the streets because the president himself can address it on his level to the Irish Government and other European governments.”

Mr Zelenskiy thanked Ireland for the humanitarian and financial support it has provided and urged the Government to convince its EU partners to introduce sanctions that would "make sure that the Russian war machine will stop".

"He said what we expected he'd say without hiding away," Ms Karamushka said. "It was hard to hear him describe those horrendous crimes happening in Ukraine but we already know these things. We were on the streets yesterday holding photos of our own friends and family."

On the second day of the war, Ms Karamushka helped to establish Ukrainian Crisis Centre Ireland, a volunteer-led organisation offering practical support to refugees arriving in the State.

She said her uncle “was killed on the battlefield” in Ukraine two weeks ago.

"His comrades gave us the news. But it's not only me. Almost everyone has lost someone now. My godfather's best friend was shot dead in Bucha in front of his own house only a few days ago."

Ms Karamushka’s family has refused to leave Kyiv and she fears losing more of friends and relatives to the war. For her, it was “more important to see the responses from the Irish Government” to Mr Zelinskiy’s call for help.

“I found the response even better than we expected. I can see clearly that Russian propaganda has no power in Ireland which is a really good sign because that is what stopped the world from helping us when this happened to us eight years ago,” she said.

“We received an absolutely clear message of support for Ukraine, and we heard from some people speaking today that they’re in favour of expelling the Russian ambassador, which is a huge step for us.”

Standing outside Leinster House, Oleksandra Pishtheiko, from Kyiv, said she was "very impressed and proud" of her president.

“I think there was a good balance between saying thank you for the Irish support and generosity but also asking again for more support from leaders,” she said.

“I’m really grateful for everything the Irish Government has done. My relatives who have come here now are getting social welfare and housing support. My niece is already gone to school. So it’s a great support from this country.”

Nick Kozlov, an Irish citizen from Ukraine, said he believed the Irish Government could "go further".

“They could be more proactive in sending out diplomats. A very large number still remain here for such a small island and they are spreading propaganda and lying to the Irish people and government,” he said.

Mr Kozlov felt Ukrainians in Ireland “really stood behind our president” during his speechto the Oireachtas. “People had their differences when he got elected but we all stand united behind him now.”