‘Anything we can do as a city we are doing’: Lord Mayor says Cork committed to supporting Ukrainian refugees 

The Lord Mayor made the comments during a visit by the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko to City Hall yesterday.
‘Anything we can do as a city we are doing’: Lord Mayor says Cork committed to supporting Ukrainian refugees 

The Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Colm Kelleher received the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Larysa Gerasko, pictured with Ann Doherty, Chief Executive, Cork City Council at Cork City Hall yesterday. 

The Lord Mayor of Cork City and Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher has reaffirmed the city’s commitment to assisting the people of Ukraine in any way possible.

The Lord Mayor made the comments during a visit by the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko to City Hall yesterday.

The visit came in the same week that the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he hoped that those who arrived in Ireland from Ukraine found “a safe harbour”, something which resonates with Cork’s motto, ‘Statio bene fida carinis’ or ‘a safe harbour for ships’.

Ms Gerasko was said to be moved during her visit by the words of Terence MacSwiney conveyed to her by Mr Kelleher: “It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most who will conquer.”

During her visit to City Hall, Ms Gerasko attended an online meeting of Cork City Council’s community response forum — a dedicated group working to help new arrivals from Ukraine to access services locally before meeting with Mr Kelleher.

Mr Kelleher said Ms Gerasko was “touched” by the famous words of Cork’s martyred mayor and that he reaffirmed the city’s commitment to assisting the people of Ukraine in any way possible.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine,” Mr Kelleher said.

“Anything we can do as a city we are doing and we’re working very closely with our colleagues in Cork County Council and every local authority across the State.”

Mr Kelleher told a media briefing that it was estimated that around 1,000 Ukrainian nationals have so far arrived in the city and county.

Up to now, Mr Kelleher said Ukrainian people fleeing their home country have been provided with suitable accommodation and there was a concerted effort to ensure standards remained high.

“Within Cork City at the moment any influx of Ukrainian nationals that we’ve had to take we have been able to provide them with privacy [and] safe and suitable accommodation, and I think every individual has a right to that... I do know that Cork City Council, in conjunction with Cork County Council and with IPAS [International Protection Accommodation Services] and central Government, we don’t want to put people effectively into warehouses and have divides between beds,” he said.

“I know that we as a local authority are actively working with every provider of hospitality within the city to avoid that at all costs,” he added.

Ms Gerasko said Ireland had been a “very reliable” partner to Ukraine.

“I would like to pay special tribute to the Irish people for their huge response to the war and for their generosity and kindness,” she continued.

She thanked the Government and the local authorities across the country for their work in helping to support Ukrainian people coming into the country.

She said that people had been provided with good quality accommodation.

When asked what further support people are in need of, she mentioned English courses, help finding GPs, and assistance finding school places and employment.

Ms Gerasko said it was difficult for her to speak about the devastation caused since the Russian invasion.

“Our military forces found in Bucha for instance, and are still finding in basements, so many civilians which have been tortured, without tongues, raped women,” she said.

She called on the Irish Government to advocate for tougher sanctions against the Russian Federation.

She also said that the Russian ambassador to Ireland, in addition to other Russian diplomats, should be expelled from the country.

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