The rise “in racism, prejudice and religious intolerance” in Ireland, “often fuelled by online, hate-filled messages”, is “deeply worrying”, a senior Church official has said after an arson attack on a pro-migration politician’s car.

Driving the news

Monsignor Liam Kelly, the administrator of the Kilmore diocese, expressed the sentiments after Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny saw his car “burned to a shell” by unknown individuals at his home in Aughavas, County Leitrim, early Monday morning.

Kenny, the Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, had recently criticised in the Dáil “fear-mongering” about asylum seekers and the spread of “hatred” online.

He had been supporting the establishment of a direct provision centre for 130 asylum seekers in Ballinamore, but local people were protesting the plan.

The Ballinamore Community Group distanced itself from the attack on Kenny, and condemned the “criminal acts” the TD suffered “in the strongest possible terms”.


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Go deeper

In a statement Monsignor Kelly praised Kenny for being “courageous in speaking out against racism”.

The prelate also condemned the “threatening messages” the politician has received, apart from the burning of his car.

Kelly said the attack on Kenny – as well as the kidnapping in September of Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney and attacks on other Quinn employees – “are to be condemned by all right-minded people”.

“There should be no place for such acts in a civilised society”, Kelly stressed.

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Why it matters

Kelly took the opportunity also to warn that the direct provision system that has led to demonstrations in Ballinamore and other places “is not fit for purpose and must be changed”.

“This system does not allow people sufficient independence to respect their dignity as human beings”, Kelly said.

“Migrants and refugees have been treated badly and communities like Ballinamore can be demonised.

“Leitrim people are warm, welcoming and friendly and the people of Ballinamore have been blind-sided because of the government’s failure to consult with them in advance and to listen to their views.

“In the past Ballinamore community has welcomed refugees and will do so again provided that there is prior consultation”, Kelly said.

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For the record

“Migrants, refugees and local communities – such as Ballinamore – must be treated in a better way and all acts of violence and intimidation against people and property ultimately weakens society and demean us all”, Kelly insisted.

“Unless the method of consulting with local communities is changed it is likely that these issues will continue to arise across Ireland in the future”, the prelate warned.

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