Labour Party leader, Ivana Bacik – Speech in response to President Zelensky
It has been an honour to listen to President Zelensky speak today.
I want to pay tribute to his immense courage and bravery. I also want to pay special tribute to the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko, for her steadfast advocacy on behalf of her country.
Ambassador, as the brutal Russian invasion of your democratic European country continues, we learn this week about the carrying out of war crimes in Bucha, about the ongoing siege of Mariupol and the atrocities that have been committed by Russian forces in other cities and communities.
These reports have horrified us all and now show the need for an intensification of our collective response.
While we in Labour welcome the news of a fifth round of EU sanctions, and also welcomed the expulsion of diplomatic staff from the Russian embassy in Dublin last week, we believe that greater sanctions and a stronger stance against Putin’s aggression and criminality are needed.
The expulsion of diplomats shows that Ireland can act independently.
So we are calling on our government to push for harder sanctions, to argue strongly within the EU for much stronger actions against Russia and in solidarity with Ukraine, to include:
- The expulsion of the Russian Ambassador from Ireland.
- Strong support for Ukraine’s accession to the EU.
- A full embargo on Russian oil and gas.
- Urgent initiation of investigations and prosecutions into Russian war crimes against civilians – including crimes of sexual violence against women and children
- Speedy passage into law of Brendan Howlin’s Magnitsky legislation.
- The exclusion of remaining Russian banks from the SWIFT system, and secondary sanctions to ensure existing measures cannot be sidestepped – at a time when we hear worrying reports that half of Russian linked special purpose vehicles in Dublin have connections to sanctioned individuals.
- A ban on all Russian ships docking in Irish ports – at a time when we see worrying reports of a Russian-registered ship docking in Dublin Port this week.
Let’s be clear. Putin wants to wipe Ukraine off the map. Ambassador, he wants to abolish your culture, your history. Putin must fail. Putin will fail.
At the outset of this illegal brutality 6 weeks ago – I called a protest outside the Russian Embassy. I called for the expulsion of the Russian ambassador. And I spoke about our solidarity with Ukraine.
Since then, I haven’t stopped protesting against Russian aggression – and I haven’t been alone.
Communities all across Ireland have joined in solidarity with Ukraine, as we roll out a welcome and offer sanctuary to refugees coming here to flee war and terror at home.
Our solidarity is real.
- We stand with Ukraine.
- We stand with you now as you battle barbarism.
- And we will stand with you as Ukraine is rebuilt
- As Mariupol, Bucha, Kharkiv and Sumy are rebuilt.
- As an independent, united Ukraine
Becomes part of a better, stronger Europe.
We are with you in your current struggles and your hardship and catastrophe;
And we will be with you as you rebuild a country so close to our hearts and to Europe’s future.