Attack on asylum hotel: Small voices speak loudly

Expressions of grand, unwavering hatred, like the war in Syrian or the war on Yemen; or another random, murderous car bomb in Kabul, or yet another caste-driven rape and murder of a child in India, inevitably provoke a mixture of emotions.

Incomprehension and horror make us recoil, but those feelings are mitigated, at least from an Irish perspective, by geography and the remoteness of those tragedies from our comfortable world.

The belief, no matter how ill-founded, that such atrocities might not happen here, is also comforting. Maybe it should not be.

Over the weekend, a hotel in Moville, Co Donegal, was attacked, it is believed by an arsonist, because it was to be used to house asylum seekers. It may not have been quiet Mississippi Burning, but it was close enough.

Like nearly every act of hatred, though not all by any means, this one had a silver lining. The immediate and unified response of that Inishowen town was to reject the unchristian, racist hatred behind the attack, to ensure that the asylum seekers knew they would be welcomed in their community. The townspeople gave expression to the decency inherent in most Irish people.

We can do little enough to end faraway wars, but we can, by our actions and refusal to look away, ensure that refugees are treated with dignity and kindness — just as the majority in Moville did. Small voices can indeed speak loudly.


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