Nick Park, director of the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, spoke out following the violent reactions of part of the population of Dublin, after the attack on a school. While the country experienced “an extraordinary explosion of violence” following this incident, the pastor invites Christians “not to sow disunity”.
In a document sent to Evangelical Focus, Pastor Nick Park, executive director of the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, spoke out following a wave of violence following an attack in front of a school perpetrated by an Irish man of Algerian origin, Thursday, November 23. The police reported several injuries, including three children, and clarified that they did not consider this act to be of a terrorist nature.
In the evening, a crowd gathered in the city center and after several rumors relayed on social networks about the origin of the attacker, the protesters chanted anti-migrant messages. According to Nick Park, evangelical Christians in Dublin must condemn these riots and make a difference in this climate of insecurity.
Irish police chief Drew Harris describes the uprising as an "extraordinary explosion of violence." Indeed, nearly 300 people are said to have thrown bottles at the police, looted stores or even set fire to public transport.
According to Nick Park, there is today frustration on the part of the Irish population, linked to a drop in living standards partly due to the effects of Covid, the lack of housing and rising prices. In this context, the pastor calls on Irish Christians not to fall into the trap of the far right which aims to make "immigrants the scapegoats for all the nation's problems". On the contrary, he encourages them to “reject political extremists on both sides and not allow themselves to be used by them to utter words of division.”
The pastor also recalls that among the faithful of churches in Ireland, many have fled persecution or war, particularly in Ukraine. He continues by affirming that the evangelical churches of the city of Dublin strive to welcome and support them.
"Pray that [...] peace be maintained"
On November 26, while preaching in a Roma church in the Irish capital, Pastor Nick Park said that "the congregation was several hundred fewer people than the previous Sunday." According to him, the faithful were afraid to leave their homes, having been "intimidated by the racist nature of the riots".
“I am ashamed that immigrants to our beautiful country are intimidated and cannot even go to church,” he said.
I feel ashamed that immigrants to our beautiful country would be bullied into not even being able to attend church, writes Nick Park, the leader of the Evangelical Alliance Ireland. https://t.co/wMYjL1b8Q1— Evangelical Focus (@Evan_Focus) November 27, 2023
Members of Nick Park's church, formed of Christians of more than 40 nationalities, are particularly affected by the consequences of this tragedy.
He calls on Christians to pray for "Ireland and the Irish Church" as well as for peace and for the city's evangelical churches to continue to be a light.
"Christians must pray for peace upon the nation, and we welcome those from other nations who join us in this prayer. Evangelical churches are probably the most racially integrated spaces in Irish society today."