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Protest urges Irish Government to ban Russian ‘hate symbols’

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Around 100 people, waving Ukrainian flags, urged the Government to ban what they dubbed “Russian hate symbols”.

The protesters gathered on Kildare Street, outside the Irish parliament, on Thursday afternoon.

“No Z in Ireland,” they chorused, with many waving the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine.

The Z symbol has become associated with Russian support for the war in Ukraine, which has led to the deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians, as well as the bombing of towns and cities across the country.

The demonstration came following reports of a recent pro-Russian demonstration in the Irish capital.

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian Ambassador Larysa Gerasko said rallies in support of Russia, as well as what she called the “Z swastika”, should be prohibited.

Nick Kozlov, from the Ukrainian Crisis Centre in Ireland, spoke at the rally.

“Just imagine this – all twice the size of Ireland being displaced. Our children being killed. Our women being raped.

“Our children being raped in front of their mothers and all that being done under the letter Z. So please, Irish Government, hear us,” he said.

“We have seen on the streets of Dublin in Ireland, a democratic state, signs that are killing our women, children and civilian population with no reason, no purpose and no cause.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that Minister Helen McEntee will shortly published a bill on hate crime.

“An inclusive Ireland is one where individuals and groups do not display symbols or emblems that are intended to cause offence to others or that are associated with prejudice, hate or bigotry,” the spokesperson said.

“The Government of Ireland remains resolute in its solidarity with and support for Ukraine.

“The Bill will strengthen the law around hate crime by creating new, aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences, where those offences are motivated by prejudice against a protected characteristic.

“The Bill will also strengthen the law around incitement to hatred by proposing clearer and simpler offences of incitement to hatred than those in the existing 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act.

“These new offences will cover inciting hatred against a person or persons because they are associated with a protected characteristic, and also disseminating or distributing material inciting hatred.”

The protest in the Irish capital coincided with a visit to Kyiv by Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, where he said that the killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces is likely to be a war crime.

He was visiting areas in the Ukrainian capital directly affected by the Russian invasion, and meeting Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and defence minister Oleksii Reznikov.

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