Irishman fighting in Ukraine: 'If I wasn't injured I'd still be with my unit'

Irishman fighting in Ukraine: 'If I wasn't injured I'd still be with my unit'

Brian Maher was injured in the Kharkiv offensive last month. File picture: AP/Kostiantyn Liberov

Irishman Brian Maher, who has been fighting in Ukraine since the end of May, has told of his shock when he learned of the death of fellow countryman Rory Mason.

Mr Maher, who was speaking from an ambulance en route to Lviv after he was injured in the Kharkiv offensive, said he was surprised the two had not met at any stage. Both hailed from Meath. 

“He's from Dunboyne and I'm from Ratoath.”  

Rory Mason, 23, was fighting in the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine as part of the Ukrainian armed forces when he was "killed in action". He was fighting in the Kharkiv region near the Russian border.

Mr Maher said it had been quite scary to be under artillery fire. It had been a very bloody campaign.

 “I don't know the casualty rates, I saw injuries in the hospital, it was pretty horrific,” told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

When asked why he had gone to fight in Ukraine, Mr Maher responded that his family would be relatively financially stable should anything happen to him as he had life insurance. His children would be safe. 

In my head, I felt justified in going. There's kids here that are not safe. I suppose that's the reason why I came over here.” 

His only regret is that he was injured. He was shot in his right forearm and has shrapnel in his heart and spine. 

Irish man Rory Mason was killed in action in Ukraine.
Irish man Rory Mason was killed in action in Ukraine.

“Whoever shot me was aiming for my chest — because I had my thumbs tucked into my plate carrier it struck my forearm, hit the bone and ricocheted back out. 

I should be dead three or four times over.” 

Mr Maher said he did not know what the plans were for his repatriation or if he would be returning with Rory Mason’s remains.

Mr Mason enlisted to fight in Ukraine last March. His father said he had "a deep sense of right and wrong and an inability to turn the other way in the face of injustice".

The International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine was formed on the order of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy just days after the all-out attack began on February 24.

In an address to “all citizens of the world, friends of Ukraine, peace and democracy”, Zelenskyy said “anyone who wants to join the defence of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals”.

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