Ukraine War: Northern Irish businessman describes ‘incredible’ trip to Poland after receiving aid | UK News


A Northern Ireland businessman who led a community appeal for help from Ukraine and then drove it to Poland called the trip “incredible”.

Paul Devenny, who runs Enviro Fire Water & Air Ltd in Warrenpoint, County Down, returns home this evening after a 3,000 mile journey to drop off medical and other supplies.

The businessman said he felt compelled to act after watching Sky News’ coverage of the death of the 10-year-old Ukrainian woman known as Polina.

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Mr Devenny drove from Northern Ireland to Poland to drop off the donations

“I have a daughter myself, and there’s a saying that for evil to triumph, good men just have to do nothing,” he said.

“I couldn’t in my heart start normally last Monday morning.

“I walked in, had a meeting with my team and we were like ‘let’s do it’. From then on it was just 24 hours a day.”

Donations of medical supplies, baby food and hygiene products filled every corner of Paul’s office at a nondescript business park in Warrenpoint.

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“We are all one community”

Mr Devenny’s warehouse was commissioned as an overflow storage facility as deliveries from local businesses and individuals continued to pour in.

“The community, you saw it yourself, there are old people, there are young people, everyone just brought stuff,” he said.

The cargo being unloaded in Kielce, Poland
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The cargo is unloaded in Kielce, southern Poland

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A truck has backed into the gates of the Russian Embassy in Dublin as the war in Ukraine continues.

“We’ve been calling for what’s needed and what’s required, and it just hasn’t stopped. It’s been fantastic.

“We have a large population of Poles and Ukrainians, and we are all one community now.

“Heaven forbid this happened to us, and nobody did anything. And that’s why I think we need to stand up, make ourselves count and do something.”

Read more: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine mapped out – what happened on Day 12

The community should be “proud”

Mr Devenny, along with employee Brian Wilkinson, left Warrenpoint at 5.30am on Friday morning in two fully loaded vans.

Paul's team and Polish volunteers in Kielce
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Mr Devenny’s team and Polish volunteers in Kielce

They headed south to Dublin, where they were joined by a Polish volunteer, Jakub Kalwat, and a Ukrainian volunteer now living in Dublin, Gatis Vaivars.

“My wife’s family is still in Ukraine,” Mr Vaivars said.

“But they are not in Kiev, they are close to the Polish border.

“At the moment they are safe, but you never know what can happen next.”

Paul Devenny and his colleague drove from Northern Ireland to Poland in two vans
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Paul Devenny and his colleague drove from Northern Ireland to Poland in two vans
Gifts of Stephen Murphy NI
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Donations included clothing, canned goods and other basic foodstuffs

The team boarded an 8am ferry to Holyhead in Wales and crossed Britain to Harwich, for a 11pm sail to Hook of Holland.

Starting at 8am on Saturday, and with alternating drivers, the two vans were driven on a 14.5-hour journey through the Netherlands, Germany and Poland.

The team arrived in the city of Kielce in Poland at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday and immediately began unloading their cargo.

He was transferred to a group of Polish volunteers for the final journey across the border and to Kiev.

Paul and Brian were to return to Co Down tonight.

Stephen Murphy Northern Ireland, donations to Ukraine
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Mr Devenny set off for the nearly 1,500 mile (2,414km) journey on Friday and returned to Northern Ireland on Monday.

Reflecting on the trip, as he spoke to Sky News from the road somewhere in Germany, Paul said: “It’s been absolutely amazing.

“It’s a massive achievement for our entire community who did what they did.

“There were only sixty sleeping bags.

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“These sixty sleeping bags are going to warm sixty people in Kyiv tomorrow night, and they were in Ireland two days ago.

It is absolutely amazing that our community has done what it has done. We should all be proud.

“We should all realize what can be achieved when we all come together.”

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