The attacks on the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Cultural Centre in Christchurch in March were horrifying, and have made a strong impact around the world.
In the statement I issued condemning the attacks, I sent my sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of those injured and killed and I would like to do so again today. We must hope that the injured recover as quickly as possible. I also called Ambassador Burgess on the day the news broke, to personally express my condolences and to assure him that New Zealand had Ireland’s full support.
Freedom of religious expression is a cornerstone of any functioning democracy and those rights must be guaranteed. Acts of violence and discrimination based on religion or belief must be challenged. The strong and consistent reaction from all political leaders in the EU as well as the reaction of the general public underlines our shared values in this area. This includes the tribute paid to the victims of the attack by High Representative/Vice President Mogherini at the Foreign Affairs Council on 18 March.
Our broader response to the events in Christchurch and the underlying causes of actions that challenge our values will continue to be the subject of discussion and agreement with my counterparts in the EU and with other like-minded countries. In this regard, the Taoiseach participated in a summit meeting in Paris in May that was prompted by the attacks and which has produced the Christchurch Call to Action, which seeks improved responses from social media platforms to events like those that occurred in Christchurch.
We will of course continue to work with New Zealand, and with others in the international community, to promote and protect freedom of religious expression.