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Connacht Tribune

Galway Mosque opens its doors in wake of attack

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Galway’s Muslim community responded to a wanton act of vandalism on its Maryam Mosque in the best way possible – by throwing open its doors to Galwegians of all faiths and none. Reporter Paul Hyland joined them to see more.

The first thing that strikes you in the sense of openness and light; walking into the Galway Maryam Mosque, I was warmly welcomed by people – young and old, men and women, Muslims and Christians.

The Mosque held a community open day to show people their place of worship, to help them understand what it really means to be a Muslim and to undo the false assumptions about Islamic people.

The open day was organised in the wake of the act of vandalism that was carried out on the Mosque – an attack that may have been seen in some warped mind as a response to the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

The first thing I was struck by was jovial atmosphere at the Mosque. It was everything you would expect from a typically Irish event. There were children of all backgrounds chasing each other around the grounds; oblivious of the context in which this event was being held.

Sr Chanel (left) and Sr Evelyn of the Presentation Sisters, Athenry, are greeted by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community during their visit to the open day at the Maryam mosque on the Old Monivea Road, Ballybrit.

Dr Mamoon Rashid moved to Ireland in 1999. Originally from the UK, Dr Rashid explained the key principles of Islam to me; how his people worship and how Islam doesn’t allow anyone who carries out acts of violence to consider themselves a real Muslim.

“A mosque is a place of worship for the Muslim community, where we come to pray five times a day and it’s all about having a relationship with God. It’s a relationship that is based on love and following the teachings of Islam which are basically two things, one is the rights of people and the other is the rights of God,” he said.

“So if you’re praying five times a day, a Muslim man or woman should become a really good human being. And that’s why when we talk about the terrorist we say that they cannot be Muslims.

“Because if you pray as a Muslim, the rights of human beings are first. So if you are not performing those rights you cannot be a Muslim. The prayer doesn’t work. You have your own false gods or ignorance, you have false gods of pride, you have false gods of violence,” continued Dr Rashid.

As you enter the Mosque the amount of light in the prayer hall – even on a typically overcast Galway day – is the clearest metaphor for the closeness to God that Dr Rashid and his community strive for.

The hallway leading into the prayer hall was decorated with posters and books filled with information about Islam. Here visitors and their hosts chatted about religion, community, family and the importance of these types of all-inclusive events.

More than one person remarked on the sense of shame they felt when the Mosque was attacked.

Qanita Noonan, Faheen Noonan and Zarin Rashid of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community meeting with Paul and Siobhan Lawless and their son Cian of the Foods of Athenry during the open day in the Maryam mosque on the Old Monivea Road, Ballybrit.

One interaction, in particular, encapsulated the true community spirit of Galway as an elderly Irish man was putting back on his shoes. Three men from the Mosque came to his assistance. They got him a chair and put on his shoes for him.

The man responded simply by saying: “Thank you very much and I’m terribly sorry for what they did to your church.”

Imam Ibrahim Noonan is the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslims in Ireland. Originally from Waterford, Imam Noonan converted to Islam while studying theology in London.

He has a unique understanding of what it means to be painted with the wrong brush. During the 1980s, while living in London, Imam Noonan came under scrutiny – as did most Irish people – due to the IRA bombings in the UK.

Now, a devout Muslim, Imam Noonan is coming under the same racially-motivated judgment because of acts of terror that are no more associated with him than the IRA ones were previously.

“At that time every Irish person [in the UK] was considered a potential terrorist. Of course, that wasn’t the case and that is the exact same case with Muslims.

“There’s about 80,000 Muslims living in Ireland, so 99.999% of them would have no desire to be anything like these people on London bridge and so, therefore, their feeling the same anxiety that the Irish would have felt at that time,” said Imam Noonan.

“The Galway people are brilliant. The last few days has proven it; since this nonsense has happened here,” continued Imam Noonan.

The pressure Muslim people feel when an act of terror is committed in the name of Allah is what Imam Noonan describes and an “inner guilt,” and the need to constantly explain themselves.

What I saw last Saturday was the farthest thing from the events on London Bridge. I saw incredibly polite men and women, who showed respect and kindness each other and their visitors.

There were hugs and handshakes abound and an honest effort from Galway residents to make help the Muslims community feel welcome.

Sisters Chanel and Evelyn – nuns from the Presentation Convent in Athenry – were two such locals there to lend their support the Galway Muslim community.

“I know the Imam’s wife very well, she comes up to the resource centre, in Doughishka, and I just wanted to show some solidarity. I was sorry for what happened,” said Sr Chanel.

Support came also in the shape of Galway West TD Noel Grealish who had this message for the Muslim community in Galway.

“We have a good vibrant Muslim community in Galway and they’re part of our community and a lot of them are business people and provide a lot of jobs,” he said.

And it’s a relationship that works both ways – with Galway’s Muslim community anxious to emphasise its openness to people of all faiths and none.

Or as Imam Noonan put it: “Islam is a religion of peace. I’m here all the time. Come and visit the Mosque. If you have questions about Islam or about why these things are happening, I’m always ready to answer the questions and understand that the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is here to serve the people of Ireland.”

As I was about to leave I was a stopped by a young man who invited me for tea with the organisers.

I thanked him and but said I was on my way out. He was having none of it and seconds later I was sitting down at a table with biscuits, cake and tea laid out in front me.

And what could be more Irish than that?

Connacht Tribune

Level 5 ‘lockdown’ restrictions from midnight Wednesday

Enda Cunningham

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The Government has decided that as of midnight on Wednesday, all of Ireland will be placed on Level ‘lockdown’ restrictions.

This action is based on current public health advice, the deteriorating situation with the disease across the country and the Government’s objectives to support families by keeping schools and childcare facilities open, maintaining non-Covid health services and protecting the vulnerable.

Level 5 restrictions will remain in place for a period of 6 weeks.

Given the difficulties that these restrictions place on individuals and families across the State, the risk of job losses and of poverty and homelessness, the Government has agreed that the moratorium on evictions be reinstated and that Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme be amended to reflect these challenges.

Placing the country at Level 5 Restrictions will have the following implications:

  • people are asked to stay at home. People should work from home unless providing an essential service for which their physical presence is required (see below for essential services)
  • people will be permitted to exercise within a radius of 5 km of their home
  • there will be a penalty for movement outside 5km of home, with exemptions to this for essential work and essential purposes
  • in line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, schools, early learning and childcare services will continue to remain open and are deemed essential
  • in addition, in recognition of the impact on children and young people of restrictions, non-contact training can continue for school aged children, outdoors in pods of 15. All other training activities should be individual only, with some exemptions, see below
  • there should be no visits to other people’s homes or gardens
  • however, there will be the concept of an extended household (or support bubble) for defined categories of individuals to support those at risk of social isolation and/or mental ill-health (see notes to editors).
  • no social/family gatherings should take place, with the exemptions to this for weddings and funerals (see below).

It is possible to meet with one other household in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden, such as a park, including for exercise

  • there should be no organised indoor or outdoor events.
  • essential retail and essential services will remain open (see below).
  • public transport will operate at 25% capacity for the purposes of allowing those providing essential services to get to work [School transport unaffected].
  • in line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, professional, elite sports and inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and greyhound racing can continue behind closed doors.
  • bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs may provide take-away and delivery services only. Wet pubs in hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but only to support provision of essential services.
  • those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable are advised to continue to exercise personal judgement. It is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced. When taking exercise outdoors, it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home. It is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport.
  • religious services will be available online
  • museums, galleries and other cultural attractions will remain closed
  • libraries will be available for online services only.
  • outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks will remain open with protective measures.
  • visits to Long Term Residential Care facilities are suspended with the exception of visits required for critical and compassionate circumstances

Essential purposes for travel (permitted outside 5k limit):

  • travel to and from work, where work involves providing an essential service (see below)
  • to attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, and in particular for those who live alone, as part of an extended household but excluding social family visits
  • to attend a wedding or funeral
  • for farming purposes i.e. food production and/or care of animals
  • to visit a grave

Exemptions for weddings (irrespective of venue): Up to 25 guests for wedding ceremony and reception.

Exemption for funerals: Up to 10 mourners.

Sports/Training/Matches

No training or matches should take place, with the exception of professional, elite sports and inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and greyhound racing, which are being permitted to continue behind closed doors.

Extended Household Concept

In order to support those who risk isolation, such as single adult households and those who have shared parenting or shared custody arrangements; those living alone who have mental health challenges, or those living with partner with dementia for example, it will be possible for those in such circumstances to nominate one other household with whom they can mix. This will allow for social support beyond the caring exemptions already available.

Amendments to PUP and EWSS

We know the move to Level 5 will have a significant impact on businesses – we know many people will temporarily lose their jobs on Thursday

As a result of the fact that businesses have to close we are making changes to the PUP and the EWSS

The new payment structure for the PUP is as follows, with the rate of €350 restored to those who were earning in excess of €400 per week:

Prior Weekly Earnings (Gross)PUP Payment
less than €200€203
€200 – €299.99€250
€300 – €399.99€300
more than €400€350

This change to payment rates will apply for payments issued from Tuesday 27th October (PUP is paid weekly on a Tuesday) in respect of all existing and new applicants.

The EWSS is also being amended to align with the amendment to PUP. This means here will be 5 payment rates/bands as follows:

  • 0 – €151 = €0
  • >€151 < €203 = €203
  • >€203 < €300 = €250
  • >€300 < €400 = €300
  • >€400< €1,462 = €350

The main aim of this scheme is to ensure where possible employees retain their link with their employer rather than become unemployed. This revised scheme will run to end January 2021.

Essential retail outlets:

Retailers with mixed retail offering which have discrete spaces for essential and non-essential retail should make arrangements for the separation of relevant areas.

  • outlets selling food or beverages on a takeaway basis, or newspapers, whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet.
  • markets that, wholly or principally, offer food for sale.
  • outlets selling products necessary for the essential upkeep and functioning of places of residence and businesses, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • pharmacies, chemists and retailers or wholesalers providing pharmaceuticals or pharmaceutical or dispensing services, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • outlets selling health, medical or orthopaedic goods in a specialised outlet, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • fuel service stations and heating fuel providers
  • outlets selling essential items for the health and welfare of animals (including animal feed and veterinary medicinal products, pet food, animal bedding and animal supplies), whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • laundries and drycleaners
  • banks, post offices and credit unions
  • outlets selling safety supplies (including work-wear apparel, footwear and personal protective equipment), whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
  • hardware outlets, builders’ merchants and outlets that provide, whether on a retail or wholesale basis –

– hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance or construction and development,

– sanitation and farm equipment, or

– supplies and tools essential for farming or agriculture purposes.

-outlets providing for the repair and maintenance of mechanically propelled vehicles or bicycles and any related facilities (including tyre sales and repairs).

  • the following outlets, insofar as they offer services on an emergency basis only:

-optician and optometrist outlets

-outlets providing hearing test services or selling hearing aids and appliances

-outlets selling office products and services for businesses or for relevant persons working from their respective places of residence, whether on a retail or wholesale basis

-outlets providing electrical, information and communications technology and telephone sales, repair and maintenance services for places of residence and businesses.

  • any other retail outlet that operates an online or other remote system of ordering goods for purposes of collection at the retail outlet
  • outlets selling food or beverages whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet:

-insofar as they sell food or beverages on a takeaway basis or for consumption off the premises,

-insofar as they are staff canteens operating for the exclusive use of persons working in, or at, a particular premises, or

– hotels or similar accommodation services insofar as they sell food or beverages for consumption on the premises by residents of the service.

See the list of Essential Services HERE

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Connacht Tribune

Armed Garda unit involved in five-hour stand-off

Francis Farragher

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A siege-type situation that developed at a house in Connemara was brought to a peaceful conclusion by Gardaí after a five-hour stand-off.

The Connacht Tribune understands that the Gardaí had been trying to execute a bench warrant in relation to the arrest of a woman in her 30s.

However, when Gardaí called to a house at Bealadangan near Leitir Mór at around 9pm on the Wednesday night of last week – where they had established the woman was located – they failed to gain entry despite repeated requests.

Gardaí were concerned that the woman may have been armed, leading to the call-out of the Garda Armed Support Unit.

The stand-off is understood to have lasted for about five hours but came to a conclusion at around 2am on the morning of October 15, when a specialist Garda unit forced their way into the house – the woman, who was alone in the house, was then arrested by the Gardaí.

Inspector Peter Conlon, confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that a stand-off situation that had developed in the Bealadangan area had been brought to a peaceful conclusion.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

77-year-old Peadar in training for his 41st Dublin City Marathon

Francis Farragher

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Peadar Nugent pictured with Máire Treasa Beatty after collecting their medallions on completion of the 40th Dublin City Marathon in October, 2019. They are now gearing up for the 41st virtual running of the event on Sunday week next.

The show must go on – even if it’s the Dublin City Marathon, you’re 77-years old, and you have to fast-walk the event on the roads surrounding the fields of Athenry.

Peadar Nugent from Moyvilla, Derrydonnell, does intend to retire from the marathon circuit. But not just yet. He’s planning to hold on for another three years, until he reaches his 80th birthday.

Not for one moment did Peadar have any doubts over participating in his 41st successive Dublin City Marathon, once he knew for definite that the event was going ahead – in virtual format.

The virtual bit means that the marathon field will run their 26 miles and 285 yards in their home areas all across Ireland and be satellite tracked on their mobile phone or Garmin devices.

Despite shoulder, hip and knee surgeries down through the years, Peadar is one of an elite group of 13 athletes who has managed to complete all 40 of the Dublin City Marathons.

Those surgeries and an osteoarthritis diagnosis haven’t diminished Peadar’s enthusiasm for the road by one whit – although he has heeded the surgeon’s advice to walk, rather than run the event, over recent years.

“In previous years, I’ve come in around the five hours and 20 or so minutes mark (roughly 12 minutes a mile) but that’s with a big crowd around and the atmosphere of the occasion.

“This year [the October Bank Holiday Weekend], I’ll be walking it around my own area along with fellow Athenry club member, Máire Treasa Beatty, and I’m hoping to come in at six hours – or maybe just a bit under,” Peadar told the Connacht Tribune this week.

Needless to say, Peadar lives a healthy life. He never drank nor smoked and has hardly ever missed a morning in his life without his usual breakfast – a big bowl of porridge.

“Even on marathon days, my diet has never changed. The bowl of porridge is the perfect food for the marathon – you’re not too full and yet it sustains you.

“During the races themselves, it’s just a case of regular water intakes and about half-way through, one banana. The banana is easy to absorb and it helps to replenish the sugar levels,” said Peadar.

(Photo: Peadar Nugent pictured with Máire Treasa Beatty after collecting their medallions on completion of the 40th Dublin City Marathon in October, 2019. They are now gearing up for the 41st virtual running of the event on Sunday week next).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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