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Ireland must ring out a welcome to refugees, says ex-President McAleese

By Sarah MacDonald

Former Irish President Mary McAleese has warned this is "no time for silence" on racial and religious intolerance as there is "a tide of malice and misery to be turned".

Mrs McAleese, from Ardoyne in north Belfast, said the people of Ireland had a chance to be "a light to the world" and an "example of tolerance and inclusion".

"These are noble things, learnable things, and they have helped us navigate a passage through the toxic debris that history cast ahead of us," she told the congregation of Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford. The Church of Ireland congregation has spearheaded an anti-sectarian ecumenical bell-ringing initiative which has been taken up by hundreds of churches around the world.

Emphasising that there will be more refugees and huge movements of people uprooted by violence, poverty, famine and despair in the future, she said the Republic must not be "consumed" by the current strain of intolerance towards refugees and migrants; it must "confront it, name it, shame it" and proclaim the enduring power of loving our neighbour as ourselves.

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