SENATOR TIMMY DOOLEY (FF) and MEP Billy Kelleher (FF) have become the first Irish politicians to visit the city of Lviv since the Russian invasion of Ukraine twelve days ago.
Dooley and Kelleher met with Mayor Andriy Sadovyi and the governor of the Lviv region, Maxym Kozytsky during their brief stint in the western Ukraine city. The pair have since returned to Poland.
Vice President of the EU Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) political group, Dooley said he travelled to the city at the invitation of a member of the Servant of the People party, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “They invited us. They wanted us to come. I think from their perspective it showed that we were committed to working with them”. He said they were transported to Lviv by political colleagues in the Ukraine.
It is unclear if the Taoiseach and leader of their own political party, Micheál Martin (FF) gave approval to the journey with Senator Dooley remarking that it was essentially an ALDE mission.
ALDE members voted last week to grant temporary affiliate status to the party while in the European Parliament, Kelleher voted against sanctions for Russian oligarchs.
Upon his return to the Polish border, the Mountshannon native and Kelleher were greeted by an RTÉ news crew including political correspondent Paul Cunningham. Speaking to RTÉ, Dooley outlined that the local people want more help from Europe including helmets and bulletproof jackets. “That is something Ireland has committed to doing and it is certainly something we will be taking back home”.
On Sunday, Minister of State at the Department of Justice, James Browne (FF) stated that the number of Ukrainian refugees to arrive in Ireland could exceed 80,000. “I don’t think we should be looking at limits at this stage. I get the sense that Irish people are really ready to help. I think they will reach out like never before,” Dooley commented.
He added, “There’s probably a tailback of 20km of cars. I’d say there’s people in a queue of maybe 5km. It’s dark, it’s now heading for the night, they are not going to get through till the morning at the earliest. People are queuing for two days back there”. The duo are to prepare a report for ALDE members following their visit.
On Friday, the Tulla resident held a coffee morning at the Old Ground Hotel in aid of Ukraine with all proceeds going to the Irish Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. Many of the Senator’s constituents in Clare have questioned the merits of his visit to the city of Lviv.