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Council to ensure local aid reaches Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion

A community action plan to ensure local aid reaches those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is to be developed by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

The move was confirmed by council’s Lord Mayor, Alderman Glenn Barr who told the chamber the local authority stands “united and steadfast with the people of Ukraine and the brave Russian citizens who are protesting a war they do not want”.

“Never let it be forgotten it was Russian blood that enabled us to defeat Nazism but let us not forget that this is Putin’s war,” said the Lord Mayor.

“As we speak woman and children, families, pensioners and civilians all over the Ukraine are sheltering from Putin’s military onslaught.

“A European country that is home to 44 million people is being attacked. Hundreds and thousands are now refugees. It was an unprovoked attack, an unjustified war and this council condemns it.

“To the people of Ukraine, they say that only heroes wear capes but I can say that today’s heroes are that of your President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the leaders of the Ukraine who have stayed steadfast with your people.”

SDLP group leader, Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon referred to “Putin’s gangster regime” and warned that democracy cannot be taken for granted.

“My party and I welcome the measures taken by the EU, they are long overdue but we should not take democracy for granted,” he said.

“I want to commend the community efforts we have seen right across our borough. Groups are coming forward and sending clothing and non-perishable goods to those fleeing this invasion.”

Sinn Fein’s group leader, Councillor Liam Mackle said “all right-thinking people will condemn” this Russian aggression and called on Russian diplomats in both Dublin and London to be expelled.

“Putin’s imperialist ambitions have caused a humanitarian disaster,” he said.

“He must withdraw his troops immediately. Failure to do so must be met with the strongest sanctions possible and a united response. Every country in Europe must offer whatever humanitarian support they can to the people of Ukraine including opening borders to those fleeing the conflict.”

DUP representative, Alderman Stephen Moutray described Putin as a “despot” and said he has nothing but admiration for Ukraine’s neighbours in Hungary, Moldova and Poland who have opened their borders to these refugees.

“Their generosity of spirit is a shining light to all of us in the western world. We must stand together to help the vulnerable in Ukraine in their time of unprecedented need,” he said.

“Over the past few days many in our Province have commenced efforts to provide basics already and they are to be commended. I ask that this council stands ready to help in any way that it can.”

Alliance Party Councillor Peter Lavery said it was clear the chamber was united with the brave people of Ukraine and said he completely supported the council developing an action plan.

Independent councillor Paul Berry said the invasion was wrong and described it as “disgusting” and evil”.

UUP councillor Sam Nicholson called for the violence to stop immediately and said he was glad to see that development of an action plan was to begin.

“We are all heartbroken at what is going on and I hope and pray the talks will result in a speedy and peaceful resolution. Hopefully we can make a difference and help in whatever way we can,” he said.

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