Dublin Unitarian Church, a congregation of 300 people on St Stephen’s Green in the city centre, has recently become Ireland’s first Church of Sanctuary.
At a meeting in November the congregation voted unanimously, with the strong support of minister Rev. Bridget Spain, to become a place where refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants would receive a particularly warm welcome and be embraced by the church community. The first action by the church was to organise a Christmas party for people involved with City of Sanctuary Dublin – both Irish people and immigrants – on Sunday 4th December.
Around 100 people enjoyed three hours of food and drink, art, music and good company (and of course the arrival of Santa Claus with gifts for the children) in its Damer Hall. People were present from at least 20 countries: Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, China, the Philippines, Albania, Romania, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Britain, the USA and Ireland. The excellent food was provided by Latifat Consulting, a firm founded and run by Nigerian immigrant Latifat Olagoke; the desserts and cakes by the ladies (and men) of the church; the art and art materials by church member John O’Rourke, and the music by the Newpark Choir, directed by Julie Shanley, and Kiruu, an Irish-African singer and musician. The children – drawn from four continents – had a particular ball. Dublin Unitarian Church and City of Sanctuary Dublin would like to thank all those who contributed to the great success of this occasion.