Attack on France an attack on Irish: Aodhán Ó Riordáin

‘Grief turns to anger, anger can sometimes turn to hate - we have to make sure we don’t let that happen’

Speaking in Galway on Saturday, where he attended a vigil with the French honorary consul Catherine Gagneux and a celebration of Diwali with the Indian community, Minister of State Aodhán Ó Riordáin said: “Irish people connect with those truly republican French values of liberty equality and fraternity, and those values are going to be sorely tested now”. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Speaking in Galway on Saturday, where he attended a vigil with the French honorary consul Catherine Gagneux and a celebration of Diwali with the Indian community, Minister of State Aodhán Ó Riordáin said: “Irish people connect with those truly republican French values of liberty equality and fraternity, and those values are going to be sorely tested now”. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Minister of State at the Department of Justice Aodhán Ó Riordáin has said an “attack on France” is an “attack on us, as Europeans”, but has expressed concern that “grief does not turn to anger and to hate”.

Speaking in Galway on Saturday, where he attended a vigil with the French honorary consul Catherine Gagneux and a celebration of Diwali with the Indian community, Mr Ó Riordáin said “Irish people connect with those truly republican French values of liberty equality and fraternity, and those values are going to be sorely tested now”.

“Because what happens after an occasion like this is that grief turns to anger, and anger can sometimes turn to hate - and we have to make sure we don’t let that happen,” he said.

“An attack on France is an attack on the European Union, and we are a member of the European Union and it is an attack on us as well,” Mr Ó Riordáin continued.

‘Shoulder-to-shoulder’

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the French people today in their hour of need, and hour of absolute grief, and we will what we can and whatever we can to assist them,” he said.

He said he agreed security might have to be stepped up across the EU.

“This is something that is an attack on the EU, not just on France, and we have to stand with the French people and the government of France and to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again,” he said.

“We also want to ensure that people realise that European diversity is the future, is the Europe that we want, and we can’t let the grief that will be poured out in the next couple of days turn to hate. And I am quite sure that the French won’t let that happen,” he said.

He acknowledged fears of a backlash, and noted that “we have had a long history of this ourselves, whenever there was an atrocity in Britain”.

“It is completely understandable that people would be angry,” he said.

“At the same time we have to show strength and to stand absolutely with those French values of the republic which have served them so well during this particular troubling time,” he said.

‘A little out of line’

Asked to comment on criticism of a tweet by Independent TD Mick Wallace shortly after the Paris attacks, Mr Ó Riordáin said he thought the wording “didn’t help” and it was “ a little out of line”.

Mr Wallace had attracted criticism on social media when he tweeted from his _at_mickwallace account on Friday night: “So terrible for the victims, but when is France going to stop its role in the militarisation of the planet”.

“At the moment we are talking about bodies that have been physically identified, families, a human reaction,” Mr Ó Riordáin said.

“There will be a time for that conversation but I don’t think that conversation should happen today,” he said.