President Michael D Higgins offered his support to members of the LGBTQI+ community ahead of new vigils for Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee taking place this weekend.
In a statement released this afternoon, President Higgins expressed his “deepest condolences” to members of the public who have been affected by the deaths of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee.
He said recent “horrible” events had brought homophobia to light in Ireland where “heartbreakingly…members of the gay community face homophobic comments and slurs, often unquestioned”.
He added: “We have to do better.”
President Higgins continued: “A lot of all of our thoughts over the past few days have been with our LGBTQI+ community and it is very encouraging to see the outpouring of solidarity with them. I know this will have brought comfort to many at this time of great distress, and I would like to express my deepest support and condolences to all those who have been directly affected by a number of recent appalling events.
“It is important that we take this opportunity to think more deeply about the public space we create as a society, and the freedom and security it contains. expressions of affection, ask yourself if this is an equal space for members of the LGBTQI+ community?
“Seven years ago next month, we will be remembered as the public voted in overwhelming numbers to extend full and equal marriage rights to members of the LGBTQI+ community. It was an important and significant step and c t was a clear statement from the people of Ireland that all are entitled to equal legal recognition of their relationships, regardless of their sexual orientation.
“Yet seven years later, when it comes to behavior, we still too regularly hear members of the gay community face homophobic slurs and slurs, often unchallenged. It is heartbreaking to hear friends or family members tell us that they do not feel comfortable holding hands with their partner, husband or wife, in public.
“It suggests an environment that kind of allows that while under the law someone’s sexuality is tolerated, their expression shouldn’t be allowed. We need to do better.
“Beyond the recent horrific events, there is perhaps a challenge to address the lethargy that prevents members of the LGBTQI+ community from fully expressing themselves as citizens in Irish society.
“As we move forward, there is certainly a need to address the roots of the assumptions that sustain these exclusions and authoritarian actions in our communities and to reflect on the individual and collective actions we can take to provide a more free, diverse and inclusive in our communities were built on respect for equality and difference, not only in our laws but also in our words and actions. In doing so, we will all benefit from the provision of such full participation in our shared lives by all our citizens.
Vigils were held to remember Aidan Moffitt (58) and Michael Snee (41) in Dublin and Sligo last night, with hundreds of people attending both events.
Sligo Mayor Arthur Gibbons, speaking at the vigil, said the people of Sligo live “in harmony”.
“It’s overwhelming to see the crowd that is here today to support us,” he said.
“Sligo is generally a very safe place to live. People live in harmony, I myself know there are things going on, they need to be sorted out.”
“It’s up to each of us to do our part in this.”
While Sligo Pride chairwoman Caitriona Bonner said there has been a sense of grief in the town over the past few days.
“We want to thank everyone for the outpouring of solidarity, the support from wider communities across Ireland has been overwhelming and we are incredibly humbled,” she said.
A number of vigils will again be held across the country today, in memory of two men murdered in Sligo.
One will start at The Square in Blessington in County Wicklow at 6pm tonight.
Another vigil will begin in Eyre Square in Galway at 7 p.m.
Independent.ie has listed the vigil locations and times below and will update the list as more details become available. You can contact us at [email protected] if you are organizing a vigil.
Wicklow: Saturday April 16, 6 p.m. at Square de Blessington
Galway: Saturday April 16, 7 p.m. at Eyre Square.
Donegal: Saturday April 16, Amazing Grace Podium, Buncrana.
Kildare: Saturday 16 April, 6pm at The Square, Maynooth.
Kerry: Monday April 18, 6 p.m. at the Square de Tralee
Limerick: Monday, April 18, 6 p.m., Arthur’s Quay Park.
Cork: Monday, April 18, 6 p.m., Bishop Lacey Park.
Wicklow: Monday, April 18, 6 p.m., Arklow Bandstand.
Mayo: Ballina: Wednesday April 20, 9 p.m. at Tom Ruane Park