Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 15 July 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence
Situation in Belarus: Discussion with Ms Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
I thank the Chair for allowing me to attend. It is wonderful to see Ms Tsikhanouskaya here today. Two things are important about her visit. The first is the profile it gives to the problems in Belarus. I saw an editorial in The Irish Timesyesterday which referred to a Europe of the past regarding what is happening now in Belarus. What is happening there now is the kind of thing we associate with what happened in the past in Europe. None of us wants to see this type of situation in Europe's future. I praise the work being done by Ms Tsikhanouskaya. It is tremendously important and Ms Tsikhanouskaya is taking a personal risk in this regard as well. The secondary value of this visit is to highlight this situation and the close links between Ireland and Belarus. Ms Tsikhanouskaya is the personification of that in many ways. It is wonderful, therefore, that the profile surrounding what is happening in Belarus is being raised in Ireland by Ms Tsikhanouskaya's visit.
That has been tremendously effective.
I mention the adoption program that more than 30 parliamentarians have taken up to highlight political prisoners in Belarus who are being held in captivity for what we take for granted, namely, simple protest. I know Ms Tsikhanouskaya is acutely aware of that from her family's experience, including that of her husband. We will continue to support her and I endorse what other members have said about the strength of feeling there is in the Irish Parliament to support her efforts and campaign.