06 Jul 2022

 Taoiseach will keep invitation to war-torn Ukraine 'under review'

 Taoiseach will keep invitation to war-torn Ukraine 'under review'

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has not ruled out visiting Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelensky invited him to travel to the war-torn country. 

Mr Martin said he will keep the invitation - in what would be the first State visit from Ireland - under review.

Mr Zelensky invited the Fianna Fáil leader to the eastern European country during a phone call between the two leaders yesterday (Tuesday June 21). 

The Ukrainian president also thanked the Taoiseach for Ireland’s support to Ukraine.

Asked if he will visit Ukraine, Mr Martin said: “These are things we keep on a constant review and I had a good discussion yesterday with President Zelensky.

“I’ve kept in regular contact with all members of the Ukrainian government and would have met with the deputy prime minister the week before last at the ALDE conference in Dublin and also with the Prime Minister earlier when he came through Shannon (airport).

“So we keep that under review, we keep in touch with the Ukrainian government to support them in their endeavour to withstand the ferocity of the Russian attack.”

Mr Martin said Ireland’s motivation is to help people fleeing war, and help the families that have been uprooted from their homes.

“They’ve left their loved ones at home back in Ukraine to protect their children, essentially, in many instances and we’ve got to do everything we can, along with all of our European Union colleagues,” Mr Martin added.

The Taoiseach is to travel to Brussels for a meeting of EU and Western Balkans leaders, a two-day meeting of the European Council, and a Euro Summit tomorrow (Thursday June 23) and Friday. 

Leaders are expected to discuss Ukraine, including its application for membership of the EU, as well as that of Moldova and Georgia. 

It is expected that an historic decision to confirm EU candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova will be taken in line with the European Commission’s recent recommendations.

Mr Martin said helping Ukrainians is a European Union-wide response.

Almost 36,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland in recent months.

“Six million people have been displaced within Ukraine, millions going to neighbouring countries in Europe,” Mr Martin added.

“In my view, Putin has clearly weaponised migration as a tool to terrorise people to leave Ukraine with the indiscriminate bombing.

“He’s weaponised energy, and he has weaponised famine and food security and that to me is reprehensible.

“We have to respond from a humanitarian perspective as best we can and we’re doing that.

“I think it is important this week as I head out to Brussels this evening for tomorrow morning’s series of meetings with the Western Balkans and the European Council, that the European candidacy application by Ukraine looks like now we’ll get support.

“I look forward to that, because that is significant message from the people of Europe, to the people of Ukraine and that we understand that you’re standing by democracy, that you are fighting for the same values that we all cherish, the freedom of the individual, free media and that is something that we can’t ever take for granted.

“So we have to play our part.”

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