Holocaust Memorial Day
A welcome to guests at the Holocaust Memorial Day in City Hall, Belfast, 27 January 2014
Is breá liom bheith anseo i bhúr measc ag an ócáid speisialta seo, agus ba mhaith liom mo bhúiochas a chur in iul díbh as a theacht anseo chugainn i Halla na Cathrach le cuimhne a dhéanamh ar an UileLoscadh.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
it is a great honour and privilege for me to be present here this evening to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and to welcome you to our beautiful City Hall lit up tonight in the two shades of purple associated with the Holocaust.
Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day of remembrance for the millions of the victims of the Holocaust, including six million of our Jewish brothers and sisters. We are honoured to have so many of the great Jewish community of Belfast join us tonight, led by their indomitable rabbi David Singer.
Earlier this week, a visitor to my parlour presented me with an Irish translation of Anne Frank’s diary, Dialann Cailín Óig. I have been leafing through it in preparation for this event. It is a book of great sorrow and heartbroke, told through the secret diaries of one Amsterdam schoolgirl. However, it is also a book brimming with courage, a text which reminds us forcefully that if we forget the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat them.
Therefore tonight on this Holocaust Memorial Day, we resolve to learn the lessons of the Holocaust which swept before it the communists, the trade unionists, the Jews, the gays, the gipsies. Chief among those lessons is that we should never remain silent in the face of racism, anti-semitism, discrimination or intolerance.
Instead, indeed, we must raise our voices in the global cause of justice, human dignity, human rights, and democracy.
It’s my special pleasure to welcome, in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect, my chaplains who are joining us tonight. Fr Des Wilson from the Catholic faith, Rev Bill Shaw from the Presbyterian faith, Rev Magaret Ferguson from the Methodist Church, Sheikh Mohammed El Rashidi from the Islamic community, Susan Agathi from the Bahai community, Frank Liddy from the Buddhist community and my Hindu chaplain Ashok Sharma. They of course are joined by Rabbi Singer. (My Church of Ireland chaplain Rev John Mann, Dean of Belfast is at a healing service tonight and sends his apologies.)
In their diversity and their unity, the chaplains of Belfast are signposting us to a better Belfast.