Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community held a peace symposium attended by politicians and members of other faith groups in the Maldron Hotel in Oranmore on Sunday.
The 11th annual conference focused on global conflicts and the need for justice.
Speakers at the event included Cathaoirleach of County Galway Michael Connolly, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Éamon Ó Cuív TD.
An exhibition was held adjacent to the event itself, which showcased the charitable work done by the community in Ireland and around the world. Those in attendance including Michael Connolly visited the exhibition before the event.
The annual conference was just one of a number of events organised recently by members of the Ahmadi Muslim community in Ireland.
Last year, they held charity walks, raised €10,000 for the Irish cancer Society, aided blood drives in the North, and organised the ‘ask a Muslim’ campaign where they took to the streets and invited members of the public to ask them questions.
Michael Connolly said it was ‘an honour and a privilege’ to be at the event, while Trevor Ó Clochartaigh of Sinn Féin was introduced to the crowd of around fifty as ‘an old friend’ of the Ahmadi Muslim community.
The Sinn Féin senator was at the funeral of Martin McGuinness last Thursday and said that he had never seen so many people in the one place.
“We lost a world class peacemaker in my friend and comrade Martin McGuinness,” he said.
He said that Martin was an ordinary person and that world class peacemakers were often ordinary people.
“Ordinary people like us, in rooms like this, can make a difference.”
Imam Ibrahim Noonan, originally from Waterford, was the keynote speaker at the symposium and said that the importance of gatherings like this cannot be underestimated. He described last week’s attacks in London as ‘horrific, barbaric and unforgivable’.
“If you studied the lives of all these people – none of them went to mosques. They all have backgrounds of crime,” he said.
Éamon Ó Cuív, who had just returned from a funeral, has been a speaker at some of these events in the past. He too spoke about Martin McGuinness’ funeral and the importance of ordinary people.
“Unless we can persuade ordinary people to go the way of peace, leaders will not be able to complete their task. I was having dinner with someone in the DUP last night and what really impressed him was the round of applause for Arlene Foster when she entered the church,” he said.
Speaking after the event, Ó Cuív explained why events like these are important.
“I think it’s very important that we get to know all of the communities that live within the country and in that way you’re also getting to know people who live in other countries and different cultures,” he said.
“My experience of life tells me that when people know people, they tend to trust them. Fear goes away and understanding is increased, and most conflicts are because of fear of some other group and it is very important that we establish good relationships with all the different communities living here in Ireland.”