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Ukrainian MPs tell Seanad Ireland’s friendship will not be forgotten

A group of Ukrainian MPs have urged the Irish government to support their bid to join the European Union – and have praised Ireland for their generosity to the conflict-torn country.

The cross-party group of four MPs – Lesia Vasylenko MP, Rostyslav Tistyk MP, Alona Shkrum MP, Dmytro Natalukha MP-  represented the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, and addressed the Seanad yesterday at the invitation of Cathaoirleach, Mark Daly.

It was notable as the first in-person address by members of the Ukrainian Parliament to a chamber in another country since the conflict began.

Lesis Vasylenko MP told the chamber that 20%, or 125,000 square kilometres of Ukraine was currently occupied by Russian forces. “Today, Putin is stealing the childhood of Ukrainian children” she said.

She asked the Irish government to support Ukraine’s application for EU membership – and added that her country is grateful to Ireland for supporting sanctions against Russia.“Like no one else, Ireland understands the need for Ukraine to be victorious and for this war to end as quickly as possible for the sake of freedom and democracy,” she said.

Alona Shkrum MP opened her remarks in Irish – “Is mór an onóir dúinn bheith anseo inniu” – told the Seanad that Ukrainians would never forget Ireland’s friendship and generosity.

“Your friendship and generosity, believe us, will never be forgotten in Ukraine. Ireland has literally set an example of a very high standard of moral leadership for any other country in the world, and in particular, to any other country and nation in Europe to follow,” she said.

She said that she hoped the European Union would follow Ireland’s example of light against darknesss.

“In Ukraine, we say Slava Ukraini, but today I really want to say Ireland Abú,” she said to applause.

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