The Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin's Clonskeagh has been praised for exploring "new ways to embed a culture of respect for diversity" in Ireland, which was "to the benefit of all in our society". So said David Stanton, Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration.
It had “provided strong leadership over many years not only as a religious community but as a centre that offers a wide variety of services where the Muslim community can gather to observe their faith.
Mr Stanton was speaking at a dinner in the centre tonight to mark the 20th anniversary of its opening by then president Mary Robinson in November 1996.
The imam at the centre, Sheikh Hussein Halawa, thanked Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates whose "generous donation" made the centre possible and who covers the expenses of running it. Imam Halawa also thanked Mirza Al-Sayegh, vice-president of the Al Maktoum Foundation, who was present at the dinner.
He also thanked Irish church leaders for co-operating down the years “to accomplish what is good for Ireland”. He continued: “We are part of this dear country. We live on its land under its sky. Despite the fact that we have diverse religions and various cultures, we belong to one country. We share our joy, we share our pain and we work together for a better Ireland.”
Among those to whom gifts were presented as gestures of appreciation were Mr Stanton, Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack Nolan, Garda liaison officer Sgt Dave McInerney, and Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.
Among other politicians present were Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, TDs Eamon Ryan, Catherine Martin, John Lehart, Josepha Madigan and Senator Gerry Horkan.