I am very happy to be here this evening and to be part of this unique event. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time ever in Ireland that a resource which is the fruit of communication, cooperation and consultation between Muslims and Christians has been produced.
So often what we hear about relations between Muslims and Christians is negative and concerns violence and intolerance. Yet here tonight the focus is very much on the cooperation, mutual understanding and respect things that are at the core of interfaith dialogue. The process that led to the existence of this resource is testament to the fact that this cooperation and respect is possible.
Cois Tine’s involvement in promoting interfaith dialogue formally began early in 2009 when a presentation on Islam and Muslim Christian Dialogue was prepared and delivered in a number of locations around the country. But prior to this Cois Tine was in a very practical way and on a daily basis engaging in dialogue with those who were Muslims among the immigrants who came to and were welcomed at Cois Tine – this work continues today.
Since 2009 Cois Tine’s work in the area of dialogue has become more formal through the work of Gerry Forde and through involvement in the Cork Integration Project that is co-financed through the European Integration Fund. Over a more than two year period this project took up a lot of time and effort and resulted in a series of Workshops, meetings and the many hours of work spent in preparing for them and in following up on the tasks generated by them. The SMA has been happy to commit resources to this project and we feel it is time well spent. Why?
Because we know from experience of working in countries where Muslim and Christian populations mix that Dialogue between Muslims and Christians is a must – it is the only way that can allow Muslims and Christians to live together.
One sentence in the resource that the Lord Mayor has just launched stood out for me – it encapsulates my hopes and provides an aspiration that we can all work towards – this sentence reads “Therefore, there is a sense of urgency, a need to build upon the good relations that we have, and to provide an example of understanding, trust and cooperation that can be followed by Muslims and Christians in other parts of the world.”
It is my hope that the involvement of Cois Tine in the area of dialogue will lead to better relations between Muslims and Christians here in Ireland and that the example we give here in Ireland can influence in a positive way what happens elsewhere in the world.