Around 70 students gathered outside the Library yesterday to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The protest was organised by Ukranian student Daniela Myers, and promoted on UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) social media.
Several Ukrainian students, including Myers, spoke to the crowd, describing the situations their families and friends in Ukraine are in due to the invasion, as well as echoing calls to expel the Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov and for NATO to “do more”. Speakers also highlighted the difference between the Russian people and Vladamir Putin, highlighting the fact that over 6,000 people in Russia have been arrested for protesting the war.
One Russian student also spoke, highlighting the fact that many Russians oppose the war and echoing the sentiments of the other speakers, adding “The fact that NATO and the EU have done more for this crisis than they have anywhere else in the world is good, but it is not enough”.
UCDSU President Ruairí Power spoke briefly, highlighting UCDSU’s collection for Ukraine this Thursday.
Speaking to the University Observer, Power stated “We are here to support the protest today...Daniela has done a fine job in organising today’s events. It is very clear that there is a strong anti-war sentiment on campus, and for the students of Ukraine, this is a devastating impact that the ongoing invasion is having on them. One of the big things we will be focusing on over the coming weeks is ensuring people have access to appropriate financial support and all administrative barriers in accessing the SUSI pathways and things like that are removed”
When asked if UCDSU supports the “I think I suppose that the student movement has played a very prominent role in anti-war activism over the last number of decades. That is our focus. We want to see de-escalation. I think there has been a very clear sentiment of disgust regarding the continued presence of the Russian ambassador in Ireland. I think that has been a prominent theme of today’s march, people would like to see the expulsion of the Russian ambassador. I think what's important is that there is a clear de-escalation message coming from this. We do want to see the Russian aggressions stop short.”
Power also stated that UCDSU “are limited in what we can do in UCD so we are focusing on the tangible supports we can put in place for students...our focus is that students both from Ukraine and Russia who are impacted as a result of the ongoing invasion are being supported. And we are very keen to ensure that there won’t be stigmatisation of students from Russia. As the organisers have rightly highlighted today, this is an imperialist war being waged by Putin and the Kremlin. It is not reflective of ordinary Russian students, and there has been a fantastic show of courage from Russian Anti-War protestors who are facing brutal crackdown there as well”.
After the protest Myers stated that she was happy with the turnout, stating “I know that there aren’t many Ukrainians in Ireland but to see just a bunch of Irish students come together like this it means a lot, and it was a great turn out honestly, especially at a University level”. Myers also addressed Professor Ben Tonra’s resignation over UCD’s initial statement on the invasion, saying “I praise that professor, but I also applaud UCD for coming out with a statement afterwards addressing that and clarifying their position of condemning the actions of Russia and its invasion/attack against Ukraine. They should have been more aware before posting the original statement, but I am glad UCD have clarified their strong position against this full scale invasion”.
“I think UCD should be continuing to set up donation drives, collection drives, they should encourage students to go to protests and to utilise social media as much as they can. To promote activism and support for Ukraine”, she added.
Further Reporting by Andrew Nolan