THIS evening a crowd of some thirty Ukrainian people, mostly young women and small children, sang the Ukrainian anthem "Shche ne vmerla Ukrayina" on Cork’s Grand Parade to protest Russia’s latest illegal attacks against their country.
Early on Monday morning, missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities, killing at least 11 people, injuring dozens, and destroying critical civilian infrastructure.
The renewed missile strikes were a retaliation for Saturday’s bombing of the Kerch road and rail bridge linking Russia to Crimea, which it illegally annexed in 2014.
Ukraine has yet to claim responsibility for the attack on the €3bn bridge, which was opened by Vladimir Putin in 2018.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin condemned Monday’s attacks, and other missile strikes in recent days, saying: “These deliberate acts of terror are nothing short of war crimes.
“We will continue every effort to hold Russia accountable for these blatant breaches of international law,” he said.
Speaking tooutside the Bishop Lucey Park, Olesia Zhytkova, a native of Kyiv who came to Cork with her little daughter in May, said the Taoiseach’s comments had been welcomed by Ireland’s Ukrainian company.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of the Irish people, and the Irish State,” Ms Zhytkova said.
“Today was very hard for us, because Russia fired more than 80 bombs on Ukraine and everyone here has someone at home in Ukraine now.
Ms Zhytkova said Ukrainian people in Ireland are very thankful for the welcome they have received, but she said they knew many people were weary of hearing about the war, and had been hurt by the resultant cost-of-living crisis.
“I have met some unwelcoming people, but most Irish people are very welcoming,” she said.
“We are aware there are so many pressures, economically and psychologically, on society, before you had no Slavic people living in Ireland, now it is 50,000, but you know, really we are not so different, we have many traditions in common although we come from 3,000 kilometres away from Ireland," Ms Zhytkova said.