Anti-war rally today as Ukraine aid efforts stepped up in NI

An anti-war rally in solidarity with the people of Ukraine is set to take place in Belfast today.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 5th March 2022, 2:01 am
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2022, 8:38 am

Organised in part by the local Ukrainian community, it is set to be the largest such rally so far in Northern Ireland with crowds expected to gather at 4pm at Custom House Square for a ‘peace walk’ through the city centre.

The event will converge on City Hall at 6.30pm for a vigil.

Alongside the Ukrainian community in Northern Ireland, Belfast-based author Peter Emerson — a prominnent campaigner against nuclear weapons and director of the Northern Ireland-based De Borda Institute NGO which aims to promote the use of inclusive voting procedures — is one of those behind the event.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th March 2022 Volunteers and organisations in Belfast come together to organise the collection of donations for Ukrainian refugees following the invasion by Russia. Volunteers Sally Clarke and her husband Ian help out at the collection point at Smokie Deli restaurant on Grand Parade in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Speaking to the News Letter, he said: “I’ve been to Ukraine over a dozen times, from 1984. I’ve worked with the OSCE as an election observer, and I was there in Kherson which has just been occupied, in Kharkiv and all over.”

He added: “We have to stop this war because it could get even worse, with the possibility of nuclear war — which could be armageddon.

“We have to do something. We are asking our politicians, and others, to do more. To sit here in relative comfort is not enough.”

Alongside the anti-war protests, the people of Northern Ireland have been responding to the conflict with humanitarian aid.

On Friday, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Right Reverend Dr David Bruce, launched an appeal towards the emergency relief effort.

The Church has said it is immediately releasing £60,000 to be distributed equally between its relief and development partners Christian Aid (Ireland) and Tearfund, and also to one of its partner churches, the Reformed Church in Hungary, and its relief and development wing, Hungarian Reformed Church Aid.

The Moderator said: “Further to my letter last week to ministers calling for congregations to pray for the situation in Ukraine, tragically the bombardment of the country and its people by Russian forces has continued, with the fear and suffering of people living in Ukraine increasing each day. The United Nations estimates more than 1,000,000 people have now fled the country and many more are expected to follow.”

Other organisations and Churches across Northern Ireland have also been arranging for aid to be delivered to Ukraine, including the Church of Ireland, various community organisations and a host of individual efforts. See page 20