Achill asylum row: Christians are morally obliged to welcome the stranger says Archbishop of Tuam

Achill asylum row: Christians are morally obliged to welcome the stranger says Archbishop of Tuam
File image of Direct Provision protest on Achill

The Archbishop of Tuam has commented on the ongoing row over the housing of asylum seekers in Achill and said Christians are morally obliged to welcome the stranger.

Bishop Michael Neary said it was well known, nationally and internationally, that Achill people are a welcoming people.

In a statement tonight the Archbishop of Tuam says in the past, Achill has accepted people from communities from around the world.

Referring to protests over a reported plan to house asylum seekers at a hotel on Achill island, he says Ireland is now moving from an era of austerity and recession to a more prosperous period in our economic cycle.

ArchbishopMichaelNeary
ArchbishopMichaelNeary

He said as Christians we are morally obliged to welcome the stranger and, in the context of our improved circumstances, we have a responsibility to share with those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

He went on to say we should also be particularly alert to those who are experiencing serious upheaval and a crisis of hope in their lives.

Bishop Neary's statement in full

"I wish to address the media coverage this week concerning protests in reaction to a reported plan to house asylum seekers at a hotel on Achill island. My only knowledge of the issue is that which has been reported. Neither I, nor the local church, have been advised of any plans by the Department of Justice.

"It is well known, nationally and internationally, that Achill people are a welcoming people and, in the past, Achill has accepted people from communities from around the world.

"Ireland is now moving from an era of austerity and recession to a more prosperous period in our economic cycle. As Christians we are morally obliged to welcome the stranger and, in the context of our improved circumstances, we have a responsibility to share with those who are less fortunate than ourselves. We should also be particularly alert to those who are experiencing serious upheaval and a crisis of hope in their lives.

"Critically, we also have a moral obligation to serve the common good by preventing the exploitation of sensitive situations concerning vulnerable people by those who trade in hatred and fear.

"Most Irish families know only too well that feeling of fear and trepidation that accompanies emigration. Let our faith, and our own lived-experience, be a model of generosity to others.

"In relation to Achill, it is important that effective advance planning be undertaken by the State including a full and transparent consultation with local people. Such preparations should go some way to allay fears and misunderstandings while, at the same time, enabling this important human-centred initiative to work sustainably for the whole community."

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