Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will today make a special address to Ireland’s third-level students.
The address will be broadcast to every college in Ireland via video-link.
Students will then have an opportunity to engage directly with President Zelenskyy in a special Q & A session.
The Minister for Higher Education Minister Simon Harris exclusively announced the plan on The Pat Kenny Show in September.
At the time, he said the address would be “really important” for Irish students, noting that it would offer them a chance to hear to hear for a president that is “standing up for democracy, freedom and European values”.
“Freedom, democracy and European values”
Speaking to Newstalk last night, he said it is vital that students are educated about the war.
“While Ireland is militarily neutral, it will never be neutral when it comes to doing the right thing,” he said. “Standing up for freedom, democracy and European values.
“Today is an opportunity for the next generation - for young Irish people, for college students - to hear directly from the president of Ukraine about a war that is taking place on the continent of Europe and why it matters that we stand by democracy and freedom.”
The speech comes just hours after President Zelenskyy insisted a missile that landed in Poland this week did not come from Ukraine.
Initial reports suggested the missile, which killed two people, was fired by Russia; however, both Poland and the US have now said it was likely a defence missile fired by Ukraine.
After President Zelenskyy insisted there was “no doubt” the missile was not Ukrainian, US President Joe Biden noted: “That's not the evidence.”
Since the invasion began, Ireland has welcomed more than 56,000 Ukrainian refugees – including hundreds that are now enrolled in Irish universities.
Speaking to Newstalk earlier this week, the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the Irish system was “under a lot of strain” – but isaid Ireland will continue to show Ukrainians “solidarity and generosity” for as long as it takes.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said President Zelenskyy’s speech would inform students about how “Russia's illegal invasion has impacted Ukraine and its citizens”.
President Zelenskyy’s speech gets underway at 1pm this afternoon.