Belfast Telegraph

New Presbyterian Moderator calls for end to the race hate attacks

By Alf McCreary

The new Presbyterian Moderator has called for an end to racist attacks in Northern Ireland.

In a hard-hitting speech at the opening night of the Presbyterian General Assembly, Dr Michael Barry said people should serve others rather than attack them.

Dr Barry criticised the "me first" mentality in society which, he said, could be seen in the recent spate of attacks on people perceived to be different.

His comments come in the wake of a series of high-profile racist attacks.

At the weekend two Pakistani men were injured when they were assaulted at their house in north Belfast.

Condemning the targeting of migrants, Dr Barry said: "All such attacks are an affront to us as a democratic and civilised country.

"That is behaviour that must stop immediately. We must never do or say anything that would give the slightest comfort to those who would verbally or physically attack people they do not like.

"We are to treat all people with respect and dignity because they have been created in the image of God."

Dr Barry, who has been minister of Sandys Street in Newry for the last 28 years, said: "The Honorary Consul for Poland lives in Newry and he has expressed his concern to me about the attacks on Polish people," he added. "Of course it is not just Polish people, and it is not just because of a person's nationality.

"All attacks must stop. Regardless of nationality, religion, colour, sexual orientation, no-one should be subjected to any kind of intimidation or attack."

He declined to be drawn specifically on the earlier comments of First Minister Peter Robinson and Pastor James McConnell on Islam.

Dr Barry added: "I am starting a new chapter and I will be concentrating on new things. However I strongly endorse the previous comments of my predecessor Dr Rob Craig."

The previous Moderator said last week that it was people's duty to spread love to those we meet, irrespective of nationality, race or creed.

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