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Local Minister hires Ukrainian refugee as new parliamentary assistant

Vlas Novokhatnii and Minister Pippa Hackett

A local TD has announced that she has hired a Ukrainian refugee as her new parliamentary assistant.

Green Party Minister for Laois-Offaly, Pippa Hackett, has added Vlas Novokhatnii to her parliamentary team in the constituency.

The Geashill-based Minister recently employed Mr Novokhatnii under the Oireachtas’ Secretarial Assistance Scheme.

She said: “I had the vacancy at a time when the need for support of displaced Ukrainians was becoming more apparent every day.

“I advertised, and I am very happy to say that Vlas applied – he came very highly recommend by Deirdre Fox, Manager of Offaly Volunteer Centre.”

The Minister sees a complex dynamic emerging in the Midlands regarding displaced Ukrainians.

Minister Hackett said: “Those arriving here come with needs, and there is no doubt they carry trauma from the horror they have left behind.

“We must acknowledge and support this. But they also come with an abundance of skills and ultimately the desire to contribute to the development of our Country.

“We are only a few weeks into the situation and we are already seeing the fruits of their contribution.

“Vlas Novokhatnii is an example of this. On arrival to Tullamore, with his mother, he immediately volunteered with Offaly Volunteer Centre.

“I hope it was a smooth transition from volunteer to employee as he was already assisting with issues from housing to urgent dental appointments and continues to do that on my behalf.”

Speaking about his role, Vlas said: “Helping people and being a part of the community has always been my intention, and now, thanks to Minister Hackett, it is my job.

“Right now, displaced Ukrainians need the support of the Irish people and Government. Being a Ukrainian, I understand what they are going through and this helps build trust.

“They are dealing with very real challenges at the moment but I can assure you, once they settle, and it might happen very soon, they will be the ones helping each other, the Irish people, and the Irish economy.

“They will be the ones contributing, becoming a valuable addition to Irish society.”

The Minister says that she hopes, for the sake of all of Ukraine, that the war will end soon, that those displaced can return and rebuild their homes and lives if they choose to.

If not, and in the meantime, they are our new neighbours she says.

Minister Hackett added: “I say this in awe of those who have done so much already to make them feel welcome.

“This may be a marathon, not a sprint, we don’t know yet and we must be prepared for a new future. Change is inevitable, our response is our choice.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.