Zelenskiy due to address Dáil and Seanad by video on April 6th

Agreement reached between Irish and Ukrainian officials for proposed date, sources say

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has agreed to address the Dáil and Seanad by video link in early April, according to Irish and Ukrainian diplomatic sources.

Mr Zelenskiy has agreed to address both Houses of the Oireachtas and is expected to do so on April 6th, Ukrainian sources and senior Irish sources told The Irish Times.

Mr Zelenskiy has addressed, by video link, the parliaments of a number of allies of his besieged country in recent weeks including the US, Britain and Germany. He addressed the Japanese parliament on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko told an Oireachtas Committee before St Patrick’s Day that she was “working on this issue”.


She said she had sent a request to Zelenskiy and she hoped “he will find a time for such an address”.

One source said confirmation came on Wednesday, adding: “It is unlikely it will happen next week. At the moment it looks more likely to happen the following week [beginning April 4th]”. April 6th was later identified as the expected date.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin met the Ukrainian ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, in Washington DC last week where she was a special guest at the unveiling of a statue commemorating John Hume, the late SDLP politician and Nobel Prize laureate.

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne also made a formal proposal to invite Mr Zelenskiy to the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures earlier this month.

There is now an agreement in place that the president will address both Houses of the Oireachtas, and will do so on foot of an invitation from Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

“It’s been agreed that it is happening. The details of timing have yet to be worked out,” said a source.

Mr Zelenskiy will be the 22nd person to address both Houses of the Oireachtas since the foundation of the State over a century ago. Others who have made addresses include Presidents John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, South African president Nelson Mandela, British prime minister Tony Blair, French president François Mitterand, and Australian prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.

On Wednesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it was "only natural" the State would respond differently to refugees coming from Ukraine than to those seeking asylum from other countries, as Ukraine was in Ireland's "neighbourhood".

The Fine Gael leader said: “This is a state that wants to join the European Union. One of the reasons why it’s being attacked is that it wants to join the European Union.

“When something happens in your neighbourhood, in your parish, on your estate, I think it’s only natural that you’re going to want to respond in a way that perhaps you wouldn’t if something was happening in a different part of the world.”

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times