The Ukrainian president will make an historic address to both houses of the Oireachtas this morning.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy will speak to the Dáil and Seanad via video-link just a day after he told the UN his country has conclusive proof Russian forces have been committing war crimes during the invasion.
Sittings like this morning’s are rare and President Zelenskyy will be the first leader of a country that is currently art war to address the Oireachtas.
The last people to address both houses were US House of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi and Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, has accepted an invitation from the Ceann Comhairle to address both Houses of the Oireachtas on the 6th April at 10am. #seeforyourself #Ukraine 🇺🇦 🇮🇪@ZelenskyyUa pic.twitter.com/KzSBC4MSHe
— Houses of the Oireachtas - Tithe an Oireachtais (@OireachtasNews) March 23, 2022
Former Taoiseach, John Bruton told Newstalk it is an historic day in Leinster House.
“This is the first time the head of State of a country actually at war - that has been invaded - has addressed the Dáil and Seanad of Ireland,” he said.
“It is a major event for Ireland as well as for Ukraine.
“Zelenskyy is a truly remarkable man. Not only has he galvanised his own people, but he has also shown himself to be open to compromise and to be able to do those two things at the same time is unique in politics.”
President Zelenskyy is expected to use his speech to address comments he made about Ireland at a recent European Council meeting.
During that address, he listed all the European countries that had supported Ukraine fully and when it came to Ireland, he said: 'Well, almost'.
Ukraine's ambassador to Ireland has said his comments were misinterpreted and Mr Bruton agrees.
“That didn’t really signify very much at all and the fact he is speaking to the Oireachtas is far more significant,” he said.
“He is taking the Irish political system seriously. He is recognising - and Ukraine, like Ireland is a neutral country - that when you are neutral, you don’t have anybody who will immediately leap to your aid.”
Members of the Seanad will join TDs in the Dáil chamber for the speech – with members of the diplomatic corps from other countries invited to view from the public gallery above the Dáil
The Ukrainian Ambassador Gerasko Larysa and some Ukrainian people living and working in Ireland will be watching from the distinguished visitors’ gallery.
The Russian Ambassador Yury Filatov was invited but will not attend.
The Ceann Comhairle will introduce President Zelenskyy, and his address will be followed by speeches from the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and other party leaders as well as the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad.
Additional reporting from Sean Defoe