March 4. 2024. 8:13

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Ireland advertised on walls of Kyiv metro stations in which civilians shelter from bombs

Famous beauty spots of Ireland gazed down on people sheltering from a missile attack in Kyiv’s metro system this week, part of an Irish Government advertising campaign that is running in the embattled Ukrainian capital to coincide with St Patrick’s Day.

The appearance of the ads, which resemble a tourism campaign, made a slightly jarring impression on some metro users, who frequently take to the subway system to shelter from Russian air raids in an ongoing invasion that has killed tens of thousands of people.

The posters read “Ireland is…” in Ukrainian, followed by photographs of Irish sights such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Rock of Cashel and the Giant’s Causeway with the text “Tourism Ireland”.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs denied that the campaign was intended to promote tourism to Ireland, saying instead it was meant to show solidarity with Ukraine.

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“In light of the difficult circumstances in Ukraine at the moment, the Irish Embassy in Kyiv has created this campaign, timed to run around St Patrick’s Day, aimed at providing positive awareness-raising of Ireland,” the spokesman said.

“The purpose is to promote one of Ireland’s key messages for St Patrick’s Day 2023 – Ireland’s continued steadfast commitment to the people of Ukraine.

“The campaign does not promote travel.”

The advertising push, which cost €1,475, is to run from March 8th to March 22nd, according to the spokesman.

The brightly lit posters served as a backdrop as the metro system became a bomb shelter for civilians overnight on Thursday, when an air raid alert sounded for seven hours in the capital as Ukrainian forces fought to repel a wave of Russian missile and drone attacks.

The barrage hit part of the capital’s energy infrastructure, causing a widespread blackout and leaving 40 per cent of homes without heating, while three people were wounded by rocket fragments, according to city authorities who urged people to take shelter.

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The posters, which run alongside escalators where people crouched waiting for the air raid to pass, carry the Irish Government harp logo beside text in Ukrainian that reads “Embassy of Ireland, Ukraine”.

A QR code encourages viewers to access a website that leads to the embassy’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as its page on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs.