Archbishop issues statement over Thurles traveller housing controversy

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Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly has expressed his concern over hurt caused by some of the public discussion which took place in recent weeks during the election campaign for the office of President of Ireland.
Archbishop O’Reilly said, “I wish to offer my congratulations today to President Higgins, and to his family, on his reelection as Uachtaráin na hÉireann.  As a nation we can look forward, with confidence, to President Higgins’ compassionate style of leadership which has been characterised by unity, inclusivity and a respect for the diversity of all of our people.  A Uachtaráin, O hUiginn, Guím rath Dé ort agus gach beannacht  ar do chuid oibre ar son mhuintir na hÉireann sna  blianta atá romhat.
“In recent weeks I was alarmed by some of the inflammatory language used during the public discourse which formed part of this election campaign.  Feedback that I have received from members of the Travelling community, and from those dependent on financial assistance from the State in order to survive, has confirmed my concerns.  Ill-informed and inflammatory language has caused real hurt, humiliation and heartache.  This offensive commentary was particularly virulent on social media.  It has been particularly damaging to the Traveller community which has been endevouring to grow and preserve its ethnic identity as part of our society.
“At this time, I ask of all those engaged in projects around Traveller health and well-being to redouble their efforts to ensure that people do not lose courage.  Travellers are finding themselves at the centre of unwelcome and unfair comment.  Our society, which is already unequal, cannot afford to become any more polarised.  Whilst the election may be over, unfortunately the consequences of this campaign will continue for many for some time to come.
“In conclusion, I ask that we commit together, by way of prayer and action, to work to build understanding and solidarity between the Traveller and settled community in Ireland.”