Following a difficult week for community relations in Kilkenny, the Green Party has said that the small minority who used a planning issue for a Mosque to spread an agenda of intolerance will not undo decades of good community work in integration and welcoming new communities.
Speaking following a public meeting that descended into chaos last week, local Green Party Councillor and Spokesperson for Community Development, Malcolm Noonan said that individuals who used the meeting to promote hate speech, are not reflective of the vast majority of people in Kilkenny and that the wider community is reaching out to the local Islamic Centre in a spirit of solidarity.
Councillor Noonan said: “It’s been a tough few days on our local Islamic community but I am encouraged by the outpouring of support and solidarity since the awful scenes in O Loughlin’s GAA Club last week.”
Cllr Noonan, who helped establish and chaired Kilkenny Integration Forum, said that Kilkenny was one of the first Counties in Ireland to have implemented an Integration Strategy, had overseen a successful integration of families from South Sudan and is now accommodating Syrian refugees.
“We have a long history as a welcoming community and a small group of people with an intolerance agenda will not deter us.
“Apart from the hurt that had been caused to the Muslim community, the incident has sent out the wrong message from Kilkenny. We are not some rural backwater; this is a progressive, inclusive and creative City, what happened is sending out a terrible message from a perspective of inward investment or our third level education ambitions.
“Ultimately the matter of the Mosque is a planning issue; the meeting was ill devised and should not have gone ahead. However we must now move on in a spirit of friendship and support. I am calling on all public representatives, relevant agencies and indeed the wider community to redouble our efforts to never give hate speech and intolerance a platform, but also to invest heavily in integration and welcoming programmes that are reflective of an inclusive and caring community. It’s time to heal the wounds.”
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