Tuesday 22 October 2019

'Ireland is with you in every way we can be' - Tanaiste and President lead Irish condemnation of New Zealand Mosque Massacre

President Michael D Higgins (Aaron Chown/PA)
President Michael D Higgins (Aaron Chown/PA)
Members of a family react outside the mosque following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. REUTERS/SNPA/Martin Hunter
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

President Michael D. Higgins has this morning responded to the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

At least one gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 20 during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques.

A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone near a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone near a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police stand outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

In a statement issued by Áras an Uachtaráin the President said that the attacks have "appalled people all over the world".

"As President of Ireland may I offer the sympathy of the people of Ireland to the families of the victims, and express the solidarity of the people of Ireland with the people of New Zealand at this time.

"This attack on innocent lives at spaces of worship for a religious community will be condemned by all those who believe in freedom and democratic values.

"I have conveyed deepest sympathies on behalf of the Irish people to Prime Minister Ardern and to Governor-General Reddy.”

AOS (Armed Offenders Squad) push back members of the public following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand,, March 15, 2019. REUTERS/SNPA/Martin Hunter
AOS (Armed Offenders Squad) push back members of the public following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand,, March 15, 2019. REUTERS/SNPA/Martin Hunter

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar extended his sympathies to those victims and families of the Christchurch attack.

He said: "There can be no justification for acts of violence and discrimination based on religion or beliefs ... Freedom of religious expression is a cornerstone of any functioning democracy and those rights must be guaranteed for all citizens. Ireland will continue to stand in solidarity with all the people of New Zealand."

Mr Varadkar was asked about the visits to mosques by Gardaí in a bid to reassure the Muslim community in the wake of the atrocities in New Zealand.

The Taoiseach said: "Well first of all I condemn the act of terrorism that occurred in New Zealand."

He added that it was "also an act of cowardice because it targeted children and people who were at prayer.

"We've expressed through our embassy and our diplomatic channels our solidarity and support  for the people of NZ and the government of NZ at what is a very difficult time for them.

"To our Muslim community in Ireland, all 70,000 of them, to Muslim communities all around the world, I think the most important thing is that we not be afraid, that we don’t allow the terrorists to win by changing our lifestyles or changing the way we look at each other because of what was a terrible act."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney also extended his sympathies.

"Our thoughts, sympathy and prayers are with the people of New Zealand as such shocking and tragic news continues to come from Christchurch - Ireland is with you in every way we can be," Mr Coveney said.

While community gardai said they would be attending Friday prayer in local mosques to "make themselves available" to the Muslim community.

The Christchurch Irish Society said it was the "darkest of days" for the area.

"We stand in unity with the Muslim tangata whenua (people of the land) in Christchurch. The future of this city is forever marked by the acts of terror cast over us today.

"The Canterbury GAA has advised that the football games scheduled for tomorrow are cancelled as a sign of respect.

"The Irish Society are committed to supporting our people at your 'home away from home' and will remain open tomorrow from midday."

Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin said has called for prayers this weekend for victims of the attacks.

"All of us, of whatever religious tradition, can identify with what that might mean for a congregation gathered for worship," he said.

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