By Dominic McGrath, PA
Irish truckers have begun a journey to Ukraine carrying 500 tonnes of aid for the war-torn country.
The first section of a convoy of 25 Irish lorries, carrying hundreds of tonnes of aid for the people of Ukraine, left Dublin Port early on Tuesday afternoon.
The goods, including medical supplies and clothing, come from individuals, community groups and companies from across the island of Ireland.
The lorries, which should reach the Ukrainian/Polish border by the end of the week, were provided by transport operators from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The Irish Ferries company has also offered support to the Aid From Ireland initiative.
Tatyana Buhera, a Ukrainian who has lived in Ireland for several years, was part of the organising efforts.
She praised the support that had come from Ireland since Russia invaded her home country.
But she said that Nato needed to impose a no-fly zone over her country.
“It is very important because people who left their houses, they have nothing but probably just documents with them. It is so important for the small kids to have food, to have some clothing,” she said.
“And also it is important for those brave men and women who are trying to fight the enemy, they have no means for that.
“Some warm clothes, some goods – it is so important for them to keep fighting and keep their families protected.”
Ms Buhera said that her brother was in Ukraine and was willing to fight if needed.
“Nobody is hiding. Everybody wants to go and fight,” she said.
“The nation is united like never before.”
Ray Cole, the director of the Virginia Transport logistics company, said that the convoy leaving from Dublin was the “first tranche” of aid.
Mr Cole said that 11 trucks, with 11 drivers, made up the first part of the convoy to leave.
They contain “any and everything”, he said.
One truck, Mr Cole said, contained 10 tonnes of porridge oats, while others contained clothes, food and medical equipment.
He said his company employed a lot of people from Ukraine.
“We just want to give something back,” he said.
“Ireland has always been good at supporting people in need. We’re just doing our bit to help them. It is a tragedy what is going on. Anything we can do to help them.”