This afternoon, students protested against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, expressing solidarity with the people of the country. Hundreds of people attended the protest outside the Russian embassy in Rathmines.
On Thursday, news broke of a large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. Missile and air strikes were launched on Ukrainian cities and military bases, resulting in the loss of over 137 Ukrainian lives, with hundreds more wounded.
Trinity’s Eastern European Society (EES) and Russian Society, in conjunction with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) asked students to attend and “show solidarity with Ukrainian civilians and protest against WAR!”.
“You don’t have to be Ukrainian or even interested in politics – all you have to be is against war in the 21st century,” they added.
On social media, the EES wrote that they are calling for “Russia to cease [their] invasion of Ukraine, Ireland to recognise that neutrality is not an option, [and] spreading awareness” of the war.
TCDSU expressed their support of the protest on social media, “calling on students to join us and protest against the war in Ukraine”.
Speaking to Trinity News before the protest, TCDSU President Leah Keogh said: “TCDSU, are collaborating with Trinity’s Eastern European and Russian Society to stand in solidarity with all affected by the current crisis in the Ukraine”.
She encouraged students to “join us at the Russian Embassy at 2pm to show your support”.
Speaking to Trinity News before the protest, the Chairperson of EES Ana Stinca said the society “have high hopes for today’s protest and especially after the disaster that we have faced yesterday”.
“EES together with TCDSU is standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine whose life became a nightmare.”
“While most people feel relatively safe in Ireland, it was heartbreaking to watch them call their relatives and friends asking “Як Ти?” (How are you?) and hoping that the other person on the line is alive”: she continued.
On Thursday, the EEC organised a protest outside the Dáil where students stood with Ukrainian citizens “for 5 hours (…) and saw the anguish on their faces while obsessively calling and refreshing the news”.
“For most students, that was the main reason to mobilise again today and show our support in numbers”: she added.
“We just want to show that we care for the ordinary Ukrainians who are suffering the direct consequences of this war.”
“Their suffering is our suffering as the results of war will indiscriminately affect us all whether you are from Eastern Europe or Ireland,” she concluded.
The protest was also attended by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), as well as Dublin City University Students’ Union (DCUSU), University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) and students from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD).
Speaking to Trinity News at the protest, an NCAD student said they came to show their support because the cause is “important to stand up for”, something they “feel passionate about” as they would “feel helpless not doing anything”.
“I’ve been following the news and it’s been a very weird few days”: they added.
A Trinity student said he came to the protest “to stand in solidarity with Ukrainian students across the world” and “show [Ireland’s] support from our little corner of it”.
“It’s a cause close to my heart, I have family who live in western Ukraine and I’m terrified for them”, he said.
DCUSU Vice President for Community and Citizenship Ross Boyd said the union is at the protest “to show solidarity for our Ukrainian students with other students’ unions such as TCDSU, especially for those most affected and have to hear about the tragedies happening in Ukraine”.
“It’s very much a humanitarian crisis, so it’s important that we take a stand on this and ensure that all voices are heard, for all the Ukrainian people”, he added.
USI Deputy President and Vice President for Academic Affairs Megan O’Connor said the USI are currently working with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) “to identify students from Ireland who are currently abroad and students from Ukraine who are studying here at the minute who are affected by this”.
“We’re in touch with the Department of Justice in relation to the visa requirement being waived for Ukrainian citizens but we also need to ensure that those who are undocumented have the same access.”
“We’re also very cognisant of the fact that current assistance for provision for people seeking asylum in Ireland include that of direct provision which we are completely against so we are inclined to act with the Minister for Justice and the Department of Higher Education on that”: she continued.
O’Connor added that the USI “are working in collaboration with the Global Students Forum and the European Students’ Union in supporting the Ukrainian Association of Students and ensuring that they are supported at a European and global level”.