Irish Muslims should not be ‘stigmatised’, says Howlin

Minister Brendan Howlin warns ‘the same madness could visit any of our cities’

Brendan Howlin said: ‘We empathise with decent, honest, honourable people going about their business’. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times


The Paris attacks could happen in any European city but Irish Muslims should not be “stigmatised” in the aftermath of events in the French capital, Brendan Howlin has said.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said Irish people had an historical understanding of discrimination and understood the perpetrators of the attacks did not represent Islam.

“I’ve no doubt that the Irish people can make the discernment. We have a particular experience in this regard. Lots of Irish people lived in Britain during very difficult times so we understand,” he said.

“We empathise with decent, honest, honourable people going about their business. And we certainly don’t want anybody stigmatised because of religion or ethnicity.”

Mr Howlin told The Irish Times the perpetrators had attacked every European who shared a liberal tradition that valued liberty and freedom.

“We’ve all come under attack by a fanatical group that has no respect for any of the values that Europe has been founded upon over centuries.

“So of course we all need to be concerned. We all need to see how we can respond in solidarity, it’s not left to any individual nation or any individual people, because the same madness could visit any of our cities.”

He said Ireland had been monitoring the threat of this sort of an attack for a long time.

“The concerns historically have been that not only might we be a location for an attack but we might be the location for an attack on Britain as a back door, so it’s important that our security is as vigilant as anyone else’s, and it has been and will remain so.”

He warned the issue of migration should not be conflated with the attacks in Paris.

Ireland had legal and moral obligations to migrants, he said. “But at the same time to ensure that there is full vetting of anybody who comes to live here, that we know exactly their backgrounds and that any potential threat is recognised very early on.”

Mr Howlin was speaking in Dublin at an event where former Secretary General of the European Commission Catherine Day received the European of the Year 2015 award from European Movement Ireland.

 Irish Times