This space here, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has been a Dublin landmark since the twelfth century. These ancient walls have witnessed generations of people who’ve come, in their own times of trouble, to seek refuge, to seek hope, to seek reassurance.
Many of us are sickened, numb, shaken and feeling helpless so thank you Dean Morton and Canon Mullen for sharing with us all this evening this evensong, peace vigil and space, so we can come together to share our sorrow, to console each other and to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine against Russian aggression.
As we know Dublin is a wonderfully diverse city and many Ukrainians have made it their home – I very much welcome those of you who are intimately living the hour by hour attacks being perpetrated against your home country – we are here with you and we are here for you!
Many Russians have also made Dublin their home and I particularly welcome you here today as you show your rejection of your homeland’s aggression against your neighbour. I also very much recognise your like-minded fellow country people who have protested across Russia against these actions.
Ukraine is a proud, resilient and compassionate nation exemplified by those Ukrainians who live and work among us and by the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, Gerasko Larysa, who we very much welcome here this evening. We want you to know that we are united here, standing with you!
I cannot begin to imagine the horror and trauma the people in Ukraine are currently experiencing. The wanton destruction and killing that they are suffering. The heart breaking decisions they are being forced to make – to stay or leave, neither option affording any security or certainty. The valiant decisions that Ukrainians here are making to return home to defend their country.
The war crimes being perpetrated against Ukraine defy everything we believe in – we ask ourselves how, in Europe, in 2022, one nation can take such unilateral, violent, destructive action against another democratic state, how can one neighbour intentionally attack and kill the citizens of another.
There is no argument, no justification for Russia’s actions against Ukraine, NONE!
The outpouring of support in Dublin, across Ireland and across Europe for Ukraine epitomizes our shared values and respect for the democratic right of peoples to self-determination and our rejection of actions that trample these democratic principles by which we all live and all want to live!
We have had our own share of conflict in our quest for our own self-determination hence our deep appreciation of peace and of resolving our differences through dialogue and discussion, of looking forward together when an agreement is reached.
This is what we wish for, this is what we hope for, this is what we pray for, here this evening – a peaceful resolution to this terrible conflict, this brutal war!
We know that this will not be easy, what is done cannot be undone. However, we all know that no matter how far down a road someone travels there is always a way back, there is always a way to turn around.
This evening we call on all who have influence with the President of Russia to help him turn around, help him find a peaceful resolution and let the people of Ukraine live in peace!
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