Tuesday, 20 September 2022
Ceisteanna - Questions
I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 to 8, inclusive, together.
I made an official visit to Ukraine on 6 July at the invitation of President Zelenskyy. I was honoured to be the first Taoiseach to do so.
During my visit I visited the towns of Borodyanka, Bucha and Irpin, north of Kyiv, where I heard about and saw at first hand the abuses and destruction inflicted by Russian troops. As the Ukrainian army has recently liberated parts of eastern Ukraine that have been under Russian occupation, we are, unfortunately, learning of horrific and brutal acts carried out in these regions also, with the uncovering of mass burials of victims in Izium.
While in Kyiv, I visited an exhibition of artifacts from the war and artworks inspired by it. I laid a soft toy at a memorial to the children killed in the war since February.
I also visited the national memorial to the Holodomor, Ukraine's catastrophic man-made famine of the 1930s.
At my meeting with the President, we discussed the security and humanitarian situation in Ukraine and its economic impacts. I congratulated President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people on achieving EU candidate status on 23 June. He thanked Ireland for our strong support and advocacy for Ukraine's EU aspirations and for the welcome and support provided in Ireland to Ukrainians fleeing the war. I invited President Zelenskyy to visit Ireland when he is free to do so.
I met separately with Prime Minister Shmyhal. We discussed the pathway to EU membership for Ukraine, sanctions, the ongoing situation in the war and plans for reconstruction.
On 23 August, I joined President Zelenskyy and EU and global leaders at a digital meeting of the international Crimea Platform. Participants in the Crimea Platform remain committed to Ukraine's sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, extending to its territorial waters. We reiterated our resolve to maintain pressure on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol without delay and to restore Ukraine's control over its sovereign territory. I reiterated Ireland's unwavering support for Ukraine in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity. I also expressed strong support for its EU membership. I highlighted Russia's cynical exploitation of hunger, energy and migration to weaken the resolve not just of the Ukrainian people but also of those in the international community who stand with them. Russia will not succeed. I expressed my grave concern about Russian military activity at the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, which should be under Ukrainian civilian control, supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency. I welcomed shipments of grain and other foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea grain initiative. I also expressed concern about the gross violation of human rights, in particular against indigenous Crimean Tatars.