Taoiseach in Kyiv: ‘We admire you and we are with you – you are very much in our hearts’

Taoiseach in Kyiv: ‘We admire you and we are with you – you are very much in our hearts’

Taoiseach Micheal Martin with local officials viewing the damage to buildings in the city of Irpin, Ukraine, as the premier visits the region to reiterate Irish solidarity with the Ukrainian authorities in the face of the Russian invasion. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has thanked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy for welcoming him to Kyiv, and has assured him that "Ireland will be with you every step of the way" as the country aims towards achieving European Union candidate status.

Here is his speech, reproduced in full:

"I want to thank you, President Zelenskyy for your very warm welcome to Kyiv and I want to thank you for your remarkable leadership which is greatly admired in Ireland. 

"I’m here first of all to express Ireland’s solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine.

"We admire you and we are with you. Russia’s brutal war against this beautiful, democratic country is a gross violation of international law. It is an affront to everything that Ireland stands for. It cannot and it will not be allowed to stand.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy greets Taoiseach Micheál Martin ahead of a joint press conference at the Ukrainian Government Building in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy greets Taoiseach Micheál Martin ahead of a joint press conference at the Ukrainian Government Building in Kyiv, Ukraine.

"This morning I visited the towns of Borodianka, Irpin, Bucha to witness at first hand the horrific reality of war on the people of Ukraine and I met with the local representatives who told me in great detail the atrocities that occurred but also the huge need in terms of reconstruction and particularly in terms of getting schools and kindergarten open this September. 

The use of terror against and indeed the deliberate targeting of civilian populations are war crimes. 

"Those responsible, those carrying out these actions and those directing them will be held fully accountable and there will be no hiding places and that’s why we have provided additional funding to the International Criminal Court to deal with the capacity to follow up on these crimes.

"I’m here also to pay tribute to President Zelensky and his government on achieving European Union candidate status. 

"I’ve always made clear from the outset our strong view that Ukraine belongs to the European Union. 

The values that people are fighting and dying for today are European values, our values. 

But it was the commitment and the hard work of the government in Kyiv that convinced the European Commission to come forward with positive recommendation so quickly and it’s a richly deserved outcome.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin places a soft toy at the memorial to children killed during the Russian invasion in Kyiv, as he visits Ukraine to reiterate Irish solidarity with the Ukrainian authorities in the face of the Russian invasion. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Micheál Martin places a soft toy at the memorial to children killed during the Russian invasion in Kyiv, as he visits Ukraine to reiterate Irish solidarity with the Ukrainian authorities in the face of the Russian invasion. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

"As you undertake the complex journey through membership, Ireland will be with you every step of the way and we’ll do what we can to help you work with the European institutions and the Commission, because we in Ireland have been transformed by our 50 years’ membership of the European Union and we want the very same transformation for you also.

"Although we’re on either side of the continent, Irish people have been enormously moved by the suffering of the people of Ukraine. You are very much in our hearts. 

"Every Irish town and city is a sea of yellow and blue. We have welcomed almost 40,000 Ukrainians feeling the war. 

"They are welcome to stay in Ireland as long as they need to. Our home is your home but we do know that they want to come home and we want them back, particularly also. 

"And we will work with you in terms of reconstruction and so forth. We also have a connection as people who have known and who have overcome adversity in the past.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin with local officials outside the church of St Andrew the First Called in Bucha, where a mass grave was used by Ukrainians to bury neighbours they claim were killed at the hands of Russian armed forces. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Micheál Martin with local officials outside the church of St Andrew the First Called in Bucha, where a mass grave was used by Ukrainians to bury neighbours they claim were killed at the hands of Russian armed forces. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

"I had the honour this morning to lay some flowers at the memorial to the Holodomor, Ukraine’s catastrophic famine in the 1930s and given our own history of famine, nobody from Ireland could not feel a strong resonance with a man-made famine that saw millions die as food left your country. 

"We’re equally horrified now at the idea that food could be against used today as an instrument of war.

"We will continue to work with others to make sure that the world’s vulnerable people do not become victims of Russian cynicism and weaponisation of food and its inhumanity. Food must get through to those most in need. The bonds between Ireland and Ukraine are already strong. 

"We have warm people to people links, young, creative and vibrant populations. Two of the world’s best known diasporas.

"Ireland has been enriched by a vibrant Ukrainian community that has contributed much to our society. 

"These ties have been deepened during this terrible and immoral war and displacement of people. They will, I know, assure a strong and unbreakable bond between us. 

"People all over the world have been profoundly impressed by the remarkable resilience and spirit of the Ukrainian people, personified by your leadership, president. And that’s irrespective of what you’re now currently enduring.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin visits a recreation of a bunker at the Crucified Ukraine Exhibition at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, in Kyiv. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Micheál Martin visits a recreation of a bunker at the Crucified Ukraine Exhibition at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, in Kyiv. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

"In 2016, Ukraine’s great writer and thinker, Oksana Zabuzhko observed, and I quote, ‘we’ve come to learn that for a free nation, strategy of survival is in fact to speak, not to keep silent, that Ukrainians have finally discovered how much they have to tell the world, if only this time the world will listen.’ 

"I am here today to say to you, president, and to the people of Ukraine, that you have spoken and the world is listening; you are being heard. 

"A war intended to crush and fragment people has, instead, made you stronger, more united, more convinced of your identity and place in the world, your language, your culture, your European vocation.

"The world has been humbled by the strength and resilience of the people of Ukraine. As your anthem says, ‘The glory and freedom of Ukraine has not perished yet.’ As far as I’m concerned, it never will. Long live Ukraine, Slava Ukraini/Слава Україні!"

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