July 9, 2022
We are building a society not of Orange and Green but a rainbow of colours – O’Neill

Sinn Féin First Minister Designate said today that she is working to build a society not of Orange and Green, but a rainbow of colours and multi-culturalism which reflects who we are and what we stand for today.

Michelle O’Neill was speaking at theEid al-Adha Festival event held at the Davitt’s GAC grounds in West Belfast.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“I am here as your First Minister-elect to show our appreciation for you all, and the generous and compassionate contribution you make to this great city, our community life and wider society for over 40 years, including in our public health service. 

“I am a champion for inclusion and you help make this place to which we all belong, and call home, richer in its diversity and I thank you for that.

“I want to reaffirm my commitment to making our Muslim community feel welcome, safe and respected in our society and by our government.  All faiths, ethnic groups, cultures, and genders are valued.

“I salute the work of the Belfast Multi-Cultural Association, Belfast Islamic Centre, the Northern Ireland Muslim Family Association, and the local district associations throughout each county who do tremendous work year round.

“My colleagues and I have been vocal in calling out those responsible for the attacks on the Belfast Muslim community, and outrageous acts of criminality.

“Such attacks have no place in Ireland, and never will have any place in Ireland. They do not represent the overwhelming majority of people here – no matter what community they come from.

“We will always stand with you.

“In our shared humanity we live in each other’s shadows and I want you to know you are valued.

“I am working to build a society not of Orange and Green, but a rainbow of colours and multi-culturalism which reflects who we are and what we stand for today.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Full remarks by First Minister (Designate), Michelle O’Neill MLA at the Eid al-Adha Festival, Belfast, 9 July 2022…

As Salaamu Alay-kum – Peace be with you all

It is my absolute honour to join you all here today for the festival of Eid al-Adha and one of the most significant of Islamic national holidays. I’d like to thank everyone at the Belfast-Multi Cultural Association and Davitts GAC for working together to enable us all to be here today.

Today marks a time of great introspection and personal sacrifice for you, our Muslim brothers and sisters. 

It is the culmination of a very sacred period of prayer and fasting and today is one of joy and an occasion for celebration across Ireland and around the world as our wonderful Muslim communities come together and mark the end of Hajj – the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.

As you gather today with family and friends in prayer I am here as your First Minister-elect to show our appreciation for you all, and the generous and compassionate contribution you make to this great city, our community life and wider society for over 40 years, including in our public health service. 

I am a champion for inclusion and you help make this place to which we all belong, and call home, richer in its diversity and I thank you for that.

I want to reaffirm my commitment to making our Muslim community feel welcome, safe and respected in our society and by our government.  All faiths, ethnic groups, cultures, and genders are valued.

I salute the work of the Belfast Multi-Cultural Association, Belfast Islamic Centre, the Northern Ireland Muslim Family Association, and the local district associations throughout each county who do tremendous work year round.

My colleagues and I have been vocal in calling out those responsible for the attacks on the Belfast Muslim community, and outrageous acts of criminality.

Such attacks have no place in Ireland, and never will have any place in Ireland. They do not represent the overwhelming majority of people here – no matter what community they come from.

We will always stand with you.

In our shared humanity we live in each other’s shadows and I want you to know you are valued.

I am working to build a society not of Orange and Green, but a rainbow of colours and multi-culturalism which reflects who we are and what we stand for today.

Today’s festival in the heart of the Falls Road brings awareness of the traditions and values of our Muslim community, those which resonate with the community here including integrity, the value of being selfless, bringing happiness to our lives, and strengthening our sense of community and of course caring for others and caring for others less fortunate than ourselves.

Next month the annual West Belfast festival will take place here also and I know that many of you will be participate in the many events and activities with your family and friends.

After enduring the COVID-19 pandemic over the past number of years it is wonderful that these festivals, and people can come together again.

Today we remember those who died of the virus, in particular the medics and frontline staff who gave their lives serving others.

We all share with deep concern the plight of Muslims around the world who are suffering warfare, persecution or hardship, not least in Palestine who I extend solidarity to today.

Our local government warmly welcomed our dear friends from Syria and Afghanistan who needed refuge and who have resettled and made Belfast their home.

Belfast continues to stand also with those who suffered as a result of the Srebrenica genocide whose victims we remember today and hold close in our hearts those who have suffered and continue to carry this hurt and pain.

It is the responsibility of us all as political leaders to continue our efforts to make sure that we learn from the past and work to build peace after conflict and inspire a new generation to value this precious gift, not least here on our own front-door also.

Our shared goals are of peace, dignity, equality, and a healthy planet.

So to conclude, it’s great to join you all and to welcome so many people from over 40 different nationalities here this morning from across Asia, Africa, Middle-East and Europe, and as a First Minister for All, I wish you a very warm and heartfelt ‘Eid Mubarak’.

Shukran, thank you, go raibh maith agaibh.

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