By Cate McCurry, PA
A large crowd of Irish-Ukrainians gathered outside the gates of the Russian Embassy in Dublin to denounce the invasion of Ukraine.
Many demonstrators held Ukrainian flags and chanted “stop Russian aggression”.
Others carried placards calling on Russia to end its war and to the stop bombing of Ukrainian towns and cities.
The demonstrators, many of them Ukrainian, were joined by other nationalities from across the world, including Russians.
Many of them urged the Irish Government and EU leaders to do more to help their fellow citizens.
A car that attempted to enter the Russian Embassy was set upon by a number of protesters, forcing the vehicle to quickly drive away.
Marina Bowe, who is originally from Ukraine and has been living in Ireland for 22 years, said she is worried for her family.
She said that while she welcomes the decision by the Irish Government to introduce a visa waiver for Ukrainians trying to enter Ireland, it is too late for many people.
“My family is here but my other family, who are just as important, are living back home in Ukraine,” she added.
“We tried all morning today, we tried from 6am until 12.30pm, we made phone calls about the lifting of visa restrictions but there is no way for them to leave the town. The whole thing is on the lockdown and we don’t know what to do.
“My family live six hours from the border, and they are saying you should allow 30 hours to make it to the border with all the checks but they don’t know how safe it is to travel.
“The strikes happen everywhere, so they don’t want to take the chance putting two small kids in the car for 30 hours under air strikes.
“My brother is organising shelters, they are putting money together to buy generators, buying toilets and gathering food and buying candles and on top of that they have to patrol their local area throughout the night.”
Her son Anthony Bowe said: “We have family back there, I spent the whole summer in Ukraine and it’s more home to me than it is anywhere else.
“I truly feel that it’s terrible what is going on because we are meant to be brothers but no other brother would do this to another. They wouldn’t attack them so viciously or without any consideration. The Russians are here to make Ukraine suffer and pay for something they never did.
“We are here to show that we stand with our own people.
“We have loads of family there – my uncle and his wife and two kids and my grandparents and other family.
“I don’t understand why they would remove the visas now because there’s martial law in Ukraine. They can’t get to the airport, while it’s a good gesture it’s not helping anyone.
“There’s not many places to move to so it’s too little, too late.”
Tetyania Brotsenko, who is from central Ukraine, moved to Ireland in 2006.
She said: “I couldn’t stay at home on this day. It’s a horrific situation and unacceptable what Russia does on Ukraine and what Putin does.
“This is not a war against Ukraine, it is not aggression against Ukraine, it is against all people.
“We need to unite against Putin and stop him.
“I spoke to my family yesterday and today and during the night. Everyone is stressed and shocked and afraid. I can’t describe how it is.
“They could hear all the fighting. I would like to get them back to Ireland but I think it is too difficult to leave Ukraine.”
Aysylu, who is from Russia and living in Kerry, joined the protest in solidarity with Ukrainians.
She said: “I am here because what is happening is a crime and not all of Russia agrees with what is happening.
“I am here to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine and to support in any way that I can.
“I think it’s a crime that Russian people can’t gather peacefully as we should. Any law which is apparently being enforced against the protesters is illegal and not legitimate.
“My friends were in Moscow yesterday and one of them was detained. You just want to do something because it’s tough. You worry about your friends, you worry about your family, you worry about your friends in Ukraine as well.
“We know so little about what is actually happening so this is a way to channel the frustration and energy.
“It is essential to come out, it’s tough to understand that in Russia, as a citizen, you have so little rights and so little ways to vote and express what you think.
“I’m happy in Ireland that I can come out and show solidarity and I think I will sleep better tonight knowing that I did something.”