Pictured at the Standing for Peace event were John Lannon, CEO Doras, Pat Daly, CEO Limerick Council, Richard Lynch, I Love Limerick, co-organiser Olena Oleksienko, Deputy Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon and Ahmed Hassan Mohamed, Community Sponsorship Coordinator. Picture: Farhan Saeedilovelimerick
Hundreds gathered at ‘Standing for Peace’ event in Arthur’s Quay Park to mark one year since the beginning of full-scale war in Ukraine
By I Love Limerick correspondent Cian Reinhardt
Organised by Doras, a non-governmental organisation which works to promote and protect the rights of people from a migrant background in Ireland, the “Standing for Peace” event saw a crowd of approximately 400 gather in Limerick’s city centre as a blanket of blue and yellow covered Arthur’s Quay Park.
Doras Chief Executive, John Lannon, spoke to I Love Limerick about the demonstration and to reiterate that those fleeing war “are welcome here”.
He said, “This event is really important, first of all, to show Ukrainians people who’ve had to escape the war are welcome here; in Ireland, in Limerick. 70,000 people, even more than that, have had to come as a result of the invasion on February 24th, 2022.”
The Doras CEO noted that over a thousand have come to Limerick saying they were out on Saturday to “recognise, to remember, to express solidarity”.
“As you can see they’re out together now to recognise, to remember, to express solidarity with their family members and everybody who is at home still bearing the brunt of the invasion, and we are here with them as Irish people as well,” said Mr Lannon.
Speaking about the human rights of those fleeing war, Mr Lannon added, “We have legal obligations, we have moral obligations. It’s right that we would leave our doors open for people who need to escape from war.
“Our International Protection Act says we have obligations to do that, the temporary protection directive under the EU says we should do that, and we will, we hope, continue to do this and show that Ireland and Limerick are welcoming places.”
Attendees cheered their support for the Ukrainians fighting in the war, and gave their thanks to the hospitality of Ireland’s people, holding signs reading “Thanks to the Irish from us Ukrainians” while wearing Ukrainian and Irish flags.
The event saw Irish and Ukrainian speakers offer words of welcome, encouragement, and thanks to everyone.
Photographer Olena Olleksienko who recently launched the ‘With Faith’ exhibition in the Limerick Museum and has come to Limerick with her two children says she was “so happy so many people came”, noting the support of the Irish, Ukrainian, Polish, and Lithuanian communities among others.
“Limerick has become a second home for me and my two children, and we are so grateful and so happy to be here, thank you very much,” she said.
Speaking to I Love Limerick, Deputy Mayor of Limerick City and County, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon said, “I wanted to be here to say that the Ukrainian community are very, very welcome and today is an opportunity for the Ukrainian community here to say thank you to the people of Limerick for a very warm welcome.
“There are over 2,000 Ukrainian people here in Limerick City and County, there are over 1,600 children going to school in Limerick and Clare. I’m very proud of the people of Limerick because we have genuinely welcomed the Ukrainian community here and I haven’t seen anybody protest or anybody giving out.”
The Deputy Mayor reiterated “this isn’t a day of protest, it’s not a day of celebrations today” but said it was a “day to remember” all of those who tragically lost their lives in the past year.
Following the speeches in Arthur’s Quay Park, the group walked across Sarsfield Bridge and beside the River Shannon while carrying the Ukrainian flag and their posters of support.
Pictures: Farhan Saeed/ilovelimerick