Tears as Limerick Ukrainian community marks two years of war at home

An emotional gathering took place in Arthur's Quay Park, where Ukrainian people gathered carrying their national flag.

A UNITED Ukrainian and Limerick community came out in force on Saturday (February 24) to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

Mayor of Limerick Gerald Mitchell was at the emotional gathering in Arthur’s Quay Park, where Ukrainian people gathered carrying their national flag and countless placards protesting the killing of Ukrainian people on their home soil.

Many donned traditional Ukrainian garb for the event, with a number of performers singing songs in their mother tongue.

The mass demonstration in Limerick was just one of a number of events nationwide, the biggest being in Dublin where thousands marched down O’Connell Street.

There were many words of thanks expressed to the Irish people at the nationwide events.

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Ireland has provided refuge to more than 100,000 Ukrainians under EU temporary protection rules since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Limerick has welcomed over 3,000 escaping the war, who John Lannon, CEO of migrant and refugee rights organisation Doras, says have “have formed bonds with the city and county that will extend across generations”.

“Limerick should be proud of the welcome it has shown to people from Ukraine. We must remember that the war continues to displace civilians, and to reduce access to education, economic opportunities, health care, and food security.

“People continue to arrive in Ireland seeking protection and, while the circumstances they arrive into are not always ideal, we should continue to welcome and support them,” he said.

“Everyone seeking protection in Ireland, be they asylum seekers or beneficiaries of temporary protection from Ukraine, should be treated with the dignity they deserve and helped to get on with their lives.”

He added it is also important to recognise the contributions being made by Ukrainians to our communities.

“Across the country, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have attended employment support events, with many having already secured employment or started their own businesses.

“There are also 18,000 children from Ukraine enrolled in primary and secondary schools, adding to the rich diversity of our communities.”

For many of the people who arrived from Ukraine, the lack of available housing has meant that they have had to remain in temporary accommodation.

“Family life has been curtailed and children’s development and mental health are affected,” Mr Lannon said.

“Nonetheless, the work done by a wide range of agencies and groups to provide access to services has been commendable”.

Doras’ Ukraine support and integration worker Serhii Korobtsov said that “the thousands of men, women, and children who saw their homes destroyed in Ukraine were received here with open arms”.

“Ireland and Limerick have become their second home. And for this unwavering welcome, Ukrainians will be eternally grateful to the people and local communities of Limerick.”