President Higgins attends service for New Zealand shooting victims

Unaddressed racism holds frightening potential for “social destruction” Archbishop Martin says

 

President Michael D Higgins attended a service for the victims of the recent New Zealand terror shooting, in Dublin city centre on Sunday morning.

The service was held at the Pro Cathedral, ahead of an annual mass celebrating the feast of St Patrick.

President Higgins and his wife Sabina were greeted outside the church by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. P

President Higgins and Ms Higgins both signed a book of condolences that has been opened in the church, following the mass shooting in New Zealand on Friday.

Gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant (28) has been charged in connection with the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, where 50 people were killed and over 40 injured.

President Higgins sat at the front of the church for the service, which heard hymns from the Palestrina Choir.

The service was also attended by the New Zealand ambassador to Ireland Brad Burgess, and the Palestinian ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek.

Addressing those gathered, Archbishop Martin condemned the “horrific event” at Christchurch.

“History shows that when racism and religious intolerance are not addressed they contain within themselves a frightening power for fostering hatred and social destruction,” Dr Martin said.

“To attack innocent people of prayer in two mosques just because they were of a different faith is something that offends Christian culture, is something that offends our own Irish culture, just as it offends the culture of New Zealand, a country known for its tolerance,” he said.

The senior church figure said he wished to express “our solidarity with our Islamic brothers and sisters here in Ireland, and worldwide.

“Attempts to demonise the faith of another cannot be allowed to assume even a token of respectability and reasonableness,” he said.

There was no such thing as “half-racism” or “partial tolerance,” the Archbishop told those gathered.

Clíona Maughan, a volunteer, led a reading which included words from a Muslim poet. A moment of silent prayer and reflection was held during the service for the victims of the shooting.