Protesters in Dublin have called on the Irish government to ban symbols of support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
About 100 people, waving Ukrainian flags, urged the government to ban what they called “symbols of Russian hatred”.
Protesters gathered on Kildare Street outside the Irish parliament on Thursday afternoon.
“No Z in Ireland,” they shouted, many waving Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag.
The Z symbol has become associated with Russian support for the war in Ukraine, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians, as well as the bombardment of towns and villages across the country.
The protest came following reports of a recent pro-Russian protest in the Irish capital.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian Ambassador Larysa Gerasko said rallies in support of Russia, as well as what she called the “Z swastika”, should be banned.
Nick Kozlov, from the Ukrainian Crisis Center in Ireland, spoke at the rally.
“Just imagine this – both the size of Ireland being displaced. Our children are being killed. Our women raped.
“Our children are being raped in front of their mothers and anything done under the letter Z. So please Irish Government listen to us,” he said.
“We have seen on the streets of Dublin in Ireland, a democratic state, signs that are killing our women, our children and our civilian population for no reason, no purpose and no cause.
A Department of Justice spokesperson said Minister Helen McEntee will soon release a Hate Crimes Bill.
“An inclusive Ireland is one where individuals and groups do not display symbols or emblems intended to offend others or associated with prejudice, hatred or bigotry,” the spokesperson said.
“The Irish government remains resolute in its solidarity and support for Ukraine.
“The bill will strengthen hate crimes law by creating new aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offenses, where those offenses are motivated by harm against a protected characteristic.
“The Bill will also strengthen the Incitement to Hatred Act by providing clearer and simpler offenses of incitement to hatred than those in the Prohibition of Incitement to Hate Act 1989.
“These new offenses will cover incitement to hatred against a person or persons because they are associated with a protected characteristic, as well as the dissemination or distribution of material that incites hatred.”
The protest in the Irish capital coincided with a visit to Kyiv by Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, where he said the killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces was likely a war crime.
He was visiting areas of the Ukrainian capital directly affected by the Russian invasion and meeting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.