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‘Heartwarming’ response to call for aid in Ukraine

The efforts of local residents to support the Ukranian people following the invasion of the country by Russia, have been praised by members of Mid Ulster Council’s development committee.

Ulster Unionist Party Councillor Trevor Wilson said he was sure everyone was “shocked and horrified” by the “slaughter and murder of innocent civilians” in Ukraine at present and asked for councillors to be given guidance on how best to advise residents who want to help.

“It is not for tonight but it would be beneficial if we could be told what is taking place so we can give people who want the help the correct steer,” he told the recent development committee meeting.

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“We should also explore the possibility of seeing how we as a council can show that we are totally opposed to what is taking place there.”

TOPSHOT - A woman carries her dog during the evacuation by civilians of the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 8, 2022. - More than two million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion less than two weeks ago, the United Nations said on March 8, 2022. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

The committee’s chair Sinn Féin Councillor Dominic Molloy told the chamber it has been “heart warming” to see the response so far within the district and described the community’s efforts as “tremendous”.

DUP Councillor Frances Burton concurred with Cllr Molloy’s comments and praised the efforts of the rural community, telling the chamber a number of “cattle trailers have been washed out and filled to the roof ” and how “long tailed lorries” have been packed with “food, nappies and other baby products” to support those fleeing for their lives.

“You only have to see what is going on, on the TV to see what those people are putting up with,” she said.

“It is really sad to see how wickedness can blight so many families and their lives in that area.”

Sinn Féin Councillor John McNamee also commended the efforts of those in the district though noted the need for more foster families and urged the local authority to think about how it could promote the idea of fostering those in need.

“I would concur with everything that has been said and commend all the groups including those in the Cookstown area,” said Cllr McNamee.

“I have seen the appeal for foster families as well, there is a serious lack of foster families and that is something we all need to look at.”

Council’s Chief Executive, Adrian McCreesh confirmed the the local authority is “coordinating with a lot of community and voluntary groups” and urged councillors to make officers aware of any groups they know of.

Another council officer also confirmed that councillors would be provided with further information following a meeting with the Department for Communities that is due to take place this week.

“The Department for Communities have called a meeting this week and they are bringing all the agencies together to look at a range of different issues including refugees and aid,” said the officer.

“That is happening next week and we will provide councillors with a full update after that meeting.”