WATCH: Crowds gather in Cork showing solidarity with the people of Ukraine

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Colm Kelleher, today tied a yellow ribbon on the gate of Bishop Lucey Park and laid a wreath symbolising the support of the people of Cork for the people of Ukraine.
WATCH: Crowds gather in Cork showing solidarity with the people of Ukraine

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Colm Kelleher, today tied a yellow ribbon on the gate of Bishop Lucey Park and laid a wreath symbolising the support of the people of Cork for the people of Ukraine. Picture credit: Cork City Council

“I would say to the people of Ukraine on behalf of Cork city, our city stands with you and anything we can do we will do to help you.” 

That was the message from the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Colm Kelleher, today speaking after he tied a yellow ribbon on the gate of Bishop Lucey Park and laid a wreath symbolising the support of the people of Cork for the people of Ukraine.

The moving event saw members of the Ukrainian community in Cork and friends of the Ukrainian community gather in a powerful show of unity against the ongoing Russian attacks.

“The people of the Ukraine are our European brothers and sisters and what they are experiencing at the moment is absolutely disgusting and deplorable,” the Lord Mayor said, speaking to the media at the peaceful rally.

“What is happening in the Ukraine is tantamount to what happened in central Europe in 1939 by another tyrant.

“Putin is a war criminal and needs to be treated as such.

“What is happening to the people – men, women and children of the Ukraine – is disgusting and I have to admire those brave men that are bringing their families to the borders, saying goodbye to little girls, little boys, their mothers and fathers and sisters and wives and then taking up arms to go back and defend their homeland,” he said.

Following Mr Kelleher’s directive, the Ukrainian national flag was raised at Bishop Lucey Park today as Ukrainian natives sung their national anthem.

As she sang, Nadiya Hnat, originally from Ternopil in Ukraine but who has lived in Ireland since 2016, wept for the suffering her native country is currently enduring.

Speaking to The Echo she said the support in Cork “means a lot” to her and moved by the kindness shown to her during this profoundly difficult time.

“On the bus, people were telling me that we all stand with you, we understand how you feel.

“My GP rang me two days ago to ask me how I feel, how my family is.” 

Also at the solidarity rally was Yuliia Garreau, a Ukrainian native who has lived in Cork for four and a half years.

She said she is feeling “heartbroken” by the Russian invasion but that the strength of the Ukrainian army and its people have given her hope.

“I can see that our army is really strong, really strong.

“Not only the army but I can see that other [Ukrainian] guys are as well.

“They are pushing back day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second.

“It gives me hope that it will be our victory. Of course, there is another question – what the price of this victory will be?” 

Ms Garreau said she fears for family members and friends currently in Ukraine, including her mother.

“My mother is there alone. She is living in the Rivne region. 

“She’s living 6km from the nuclear station and I really hope that nothing will happen to that nuclear station,” she explained.

Ms Garreau said she was “deeply touched” by Ireland’s decision to lift visa requirements between Ukraine and Ireland and is grateful for the support shown to her home country.

“I moved to Ireland from Kyiv and a huge part of my heart is there still. We hope that this will be over soon.” 

Also at the solidarity rally were students from Coláiste Éamann Rís, holding posters which read ‘No to War’, ‘End the War’ and ‘Putin – Hands off Ukraine’.

“The students themselves wanted to come,” school principal Aaron Wolfe, told The Echo.

“We were asked when they heard about it on the news, they said they wanted to come down and represent the young people of Ireland and it’s very important we listen to the young people and they feel very, very strongly about what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment.

“It’s very difficult in schools because we have a diverse cultural background in the school.

“We have students from Ukraine, we also have students from Russia and those students they don’t agree with the conflict either and they feel very frightened that their families are going to be targeted and there’s going to be an anti-Russian feeling in the country.

“Schools are very complex at the moment and we’re trying to all work together and get them through this but it’s very hard for young people connected to it,” Mr Wolfe continued.

First Year student, Amelia Cudak said her grandmother lives near the Ukrainian border in Poland and that she is worried about the ongoing conflict.

“She is right near the border of Ukraine and she could see the planes flying over her and it’s very scary right now.

“We call her every single day to check if she’s alright.” 

Transition year student in the school, Kristian Vukorepa, said attending today’s event was very important to him.

“It is my greatest gratitude to be here today and to show support for all of the people who are really suffering every day and I really am sorry that this is actually happening and that we have to be here today, but this is what has to be done in order to stop Russian aggression.”

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