Belarus honorary consul in Ireland ‘horrified’ by Lukashenko’s actions

Vincent Pierce, who acts as point of contact for Irish people, says citizens ‘living in fear’

 Belarusians living in Ukraine along with their supporters attend a rally in front of the Ukrainian foreign ministry in Kiev, following the arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich in Belarus. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

Belarusians living in Ukraine along with their supporters attend a rally in front of the Ukrainian foreign ministry in Kiev, following the arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich in Belarus. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

 

The honorary consul for Belarus in Ireland has said he is “absolutely horrified” by the actions of the country’s president Alexander Lukashenko.

Vincent Pierce, a wool merchant from Co Wicklow, has been the Belarus honorary consul in Ireland for more than 30 years.

Mr Pierce said he represents the “people not the government” of Belarus. “Who would want to be associated with the government at this stage? I have never done anything in a political sphere,” he said.

He returned from an eight-day business trip to the country on Sunday morning, the same day that Mr Lukashenko ordered a Ryanair flight to divert to the capital Minsk.

Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich was removed from the plane and he is now in detention.

Belarus has no embassy in Ireland and Mr Pierce is a point of contact for Irish people wishing to enter the country. Many Irish families visit children affected by the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

He said of Mr Lukashenko: “Nobody seems to be able to tackle this fellow. They all think he is a gangster, they are all living in fear.”

He said Mr Lukashenko was suspicious of anybody who could possibly challenge him. Even a dentist Mr Pierce knows has been targeted.

“He is turning on the professions a lot of her other colleagues have been rounded up. It is happening all over the place.”

Mr Pierce is writing a letter to two former Belarus ambassadors to London who he knows from his time as honorary consul. They are now part of Mr Lukashenko’s government.

“I want to tell them how horrified I am and that they need to get their act together,” he said.

He previously wrote to them after the protests following last year’s presidential election, which Mr Lukashenko was accused of rigging.

Mr Pierce said he has considered resigning his honorary position, “but this would only bring the wrath on those people I have worked with in Belarus”.