A six-year-old Ukrainian boy was killed in his own bed while he was asleep at home in the Donbas region on Monday night by a Russian missile, the Seanad has heard.
For the first time in the world, Ukrainian politicians addressed a parliament in-person by attending a Seanad sitting yesterday.
Politicians Alona Shkrum, Lesia Vasylenko, Rostyslav Tistyk and Dmytro Natalukha spoke about their own personal experiences during the first 111 days of the war.
Ms Vasylenko recalled how she made the heartbreaking decision to “send my children away”.
“I am a mother of three. The youngest turned one on June 1. Three months of my youngest daughter’s first (year of her) life was spent without her mother,” she added.
“My other daughter is seven, and she got used to seeing me just twice a month on the weekends when I get time to visit. My son, every time before I go back to Ukraine, he comes to me with the same question: why can’t he come with me? My answer is always the same: ‘I gave you life, I gave you life to live’.”
She went on to describe Russia as an “empire of evil”.
“Russia is stealing Ukraine’s future and it is not a figure of speech,” said Ms Vasylenko.
Ms Shkrum remembered how she was at home in the centre of Kyiv when the war started, with explosions “falling on top of my head”.
She told the Seanad how her grandmother refused to evacuate her home at the start of the war.
“What gave me the most fear was not the explosions falling on top of my head, but this feeling was horribly familiar to something which I have heard from my grandmother when she was talking about the beginning of the Second World War,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine that in our age of Geneva Conventions, humanitarian law, Budapest Memorandum, drones and cyber-warfare and satellites, we would actually have a dictator to target and kill civilians,” she told the senators present.
Dmytro Natalukha said Irish businesses will be the first to invest in Ukraine before the war is over. A total of €200m is set to be invested into the country “even before the war is over”, he said.
“You never hesitated whether to support us. As a representative of the parliament of Ukraine, I’m sure that every Ukrainian heartily appreciates your aid, your support and your standing with Ukraine.”
Mr Natalukha quoted Bobby Sands during his speech and spoke about his friend who died during the war.
“You might have noticed this in the last couple of months of war of a country of 114 million against a country of 14 million. In fact, a friend of mine who died defending Mariupol was ready to eat dog food and drink dirty water from puddles for months, but was not ready to give up his freedom even for a second. He never did,” he said.
The visit was organised by Fine Gael senators Garret Ahearn and Barry Ward.
The four Ukrainian politicians arrived in Dublin on Monday and visited Citywest, where hundreds of refugees are currently accommodated.
Ms Vasylenko later described the visit to Citywest as “heartbreaking”, telling RTÉ how she could see women in the hotel canteen who had a blank expression and could tell that they were far away, as that is the pain of forced displacement.
They also met Taoiseach Micheál Martin as well as senior ministers.
They are due to travel to London to meet senior British politicians.