Ambassador meets Ukrainian refugees in 'emotional' Wexford visit

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Ambassador Meets Ukrainian Refugees In 'Emotional' Wexford Visit Ambassador Meets Ukrainian Refugees In 'Emotional' Wexford Visit
Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko speaking at Gorey Civic Centre. Picture: John Kelly, Wexford Local Development
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James Cox

Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko visited Gorey, Co Wexford, on Monday where she attended a civic reception and met refugees who are settling in to the area.

The ambassador visited the town after an invitation from local Senator Malcolm Byrne.

Ms Gerasko visited Loreto Primary School, where 15 Ukrainian students are now enrolled, and Gorey Community School, where there are five Ukrainian students.

She also visited Gorey Youth Needs Group, where a drop-in facility to help Ukrainian families settling in the area is held every Monday.

Mr Byrne told BreakingNews.ie: "There was a civic reception at the civic offices and library, which allowed the ambassador to speak about the situation in Ukraine and also to thank people for their support and solidarity.

"She spoke about Ireland's generosity, how friendly people have been, and particularly since the invasion about how the approach has been one of 'how can we help?'

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Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko speaking at Gorey Civic Centre. Picture: John Kelly, Wexford Local Development

"She did mention it was quite emotional, because she obviously has her role as a diplomat, but the ambassador has family in Ukraine, and she was sharing stories with the families who are here, it's horrible what is happening.

"It was also about different groups throughout Co Wexford who have been coming together to try to provide support, it was a powerful day. When the ambassador spoke, and spoke with such emotion, about what is happening in Ukraine it brings it back home to all of us."

The Fianna Fáil senator added: "Gorey is no different to communities right across Ireland who have been warmly welcoming our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who have had to flee Putin's war.

"For all of us, it makes us appreciate what we have when you think so many of these families have had to pack a bag and go. They want to return to Ukraine but in many cases their homes have been destroyed, their communities have been destroyed.

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"It's been really good that as a community we have been able to open our arms, open our doors and help. There are some issues that still need to be sorted. A lot of Ukrainians here want to work, so they were enquiring about access to certain jobs and so on, those support structures are being put in place. There are a lot of challenges because the scale of what we're dealing with is enormous.

"I know the ambassador enjoyed her visit and was happy to meet people from Ukraine and from Co Wexford."

Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko meeting Ukrainian people in Gorey, Co Wexford. Picture: John Kelly, Wexford Local Development

Mr Byrne said many of the Ukrainians who have arrived so far are highly skilled, and keen to get working.

"Ukraine is a highly educated population, there are people with a lot of skills. Many of those who have arrived here in Ireland are already working in areas like engineering, a lot of them want to come and work, and we have a skills shortage so if there are opportunities we should be able to match them up.

"I think that's something that is important to acknowledge, these are skilled and hard-working people. We also have to be very conscious that some of the families who have escaped have seen and experienced some horrible things.

"Some of them have lost members of their own families in the war, so they are carrying that trauma and difficulty."

Mr Byrne said that Gorey library, where Ms Gerasko visited today, now has children's books available in Ukrainian, while there are signs around common words in English and Ukrainian to "help build a level of understanding, it's a wonderful initiative".

"Unfortunately we don't know how or when this war will end, but Putin has to be beaten, for that time there is an obligation on us to support these innocent people."

"Irish people see what's going on, know how people are suffering, and want to provide as much support as we can," he concluded.

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