A greeting from Ireland to the world released by the Department of Foreign Affairs on the eve of St Patrick’s day has been viewed close to a million times and liked, shared and commented on by thousands of people across social media platforms in just a matter of hours.
The video, featuring Paul Brady’s The Island, lasts just under three minutes and documents the birth of the nation and the role Ireland has played on the world stage – in the corridors of power in the EU and UN and on the streets, sands and seas of conflict and humanitarian crisis all over the world.
As it comes to an end, the mood shifts from one of national pride to something quite different and more current.
A handful of the heart-breaking imagines of families across Ukraine fleeing the Russian assault in recent days are juxtaposed with Irish buildings illuminated in the blue and yellow of that country as Brady sings about “women and children dying in the streets”.
“On this St Patrick’s Day, Ireland stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and people everywhere in crisis,” the text reads .”We are thinking of you.”
In a statement the Department noted that the Taoiseach had “encouraged Ireland’s network of missions , that would usually light up green, to light up in blue and yellow, the colours of the flag of Ukraine, and has invited partners who normally take part in the ‘global greening’ to join us in doing so.”
It added that the country was marking St Patrick’s Day “in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, acknowledging their resilience and courage and assuring them of our unwavering support, as we express our Irish identity including our strong commitment to democratic and humanitarian values.”
In the hours after its release, the video attracted thousands of comments from as far apart as Canada and Zambia with people expressing their pride at the place Ireland occupies on the world stage as well as solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
There were many people who admitted to shedding a tear after watching the video to the end.
While the vast majority of the comments were hugely positive about the message and were posted by identified people with real names and pictures attached to their profiles, there were also a significant number of posts from anonymous social media users, many of whom were fiercly critical of the Government’s declaration of support for the people of Ukraine .
Some of those tweets suggested Ukraine was a Nazi state which was stockpiling biological weapons and launching assaults on the people of Donbass while others posited the theory that the video was posted at the behest of Ireland’s unnamed “paymasters” standing in the shadows of the global stage.
Many of the negative sentiments echoed the talking points and misleading claims by the Russian authorities when justifying their invasion o Ukraine.