Speaking, Thursday 18 March, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney T.D., took the opportunity to highlight the warm friendship and solidarity the Irish people have with the people of Belarus and commended them for their resilience against a backdrop of intimidation and threats to their freedoms and human rights:
“At a time of year when the world’s attention traditionally turns to Ireland it is important that we do not lose sight of those in need of our support and that of the international community. In Belarus, peaceful protesters continue to face widespread harassment and indiscriminate detentions. The repression under which they are suffering is completely unacceptable and a respect for human rights must be fully restored. Ireland stands proudly with the Belarusian people who continue to courageously voice their demands for free and fair elections.
Our connection with Belarus and its people is reinforced by the compassion and empathy of Irish families who welcomed Belarusian children into their homes and lives, creating permanent bonds in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster. Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was one of those children. She has kept Ireland close to her heart and her St. Patrick’s Day message is warmly received. Her message will also resonate with the many Belarusians who now call Ireland home. Their contributions to this country are valued and we share their deep concerns at what is taking place in the country of their birth.
Ireland’s solidarity with the Belarusian people, who have tirelessly defended their democratic and human rights, remains steadfast. We urge the Belarusian authorities to heed the calls of their people and to engage in a meaningful and truly inclusive national dialogue. A democratic and peaceful solution is essential, and alongside our EU and international partners we will continue to pursue this outcome.”
Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne T.D., also welcomed Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s message and reiterated his call for independent investigations into human rights violations in Belarus:
“I warmly welcome and appreciate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s St. Patrick’s Day message on behalf of the people of Belarus. Our countries frame opposite edges of the European continent, but we are connected through our mutual concern for one another. We are also countries with a shared history of emigration and its effects. The Belarusian community in Ireland is a testament to how our diasporas make our countries and cultures stronger and more visible.
My thoughts, and the thoughts of the Irish people, remain with the people of Belarus in these difficult times. They continue to face daily intimidation, ongoing detentions and unjust sentences, while media freedoms have been ruthlessly repressed in an effort to silence their voice. I can assure the Belarusian people that Ireland will continue to use our voice to keep the situation in the international spotlight and maintain pressure on the Lukashenko regime to alter its course. In that regard, I reiterate my call for the violence, repression and harassment of the Belarusian people to end, for those unjustly detained to be released, and for human rights violations to be properly investigated.
Ireland has been unambiguous in our support for Belarusian civil society and that will not change. We have provided direct national funding for projects in the country and we continue to work with other Member States on EU initiatives. We have also engaged with the wider international community in pressing the Belarusian authorities to adhere to their human rights obligations.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and all Belarusians know the goodwill of the Irish people and that Ireland will not waver in our support for a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Belarus. We look forward to welcoming her to Ireland once again when public health conditions permit.”
18 March 2021