LGBT Ireland has said it is “deeply saddened” by the killings of two men in Sligo, as gardaí investigate the possibility of a hate-related or homophobic motive for the fatal attacks.
The national support service for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people said it had been a “dark week” for the LGBTI+ community in Ireland with the violent deaths of Aidan Moffitt (42) and Michael Snee (58), along with a homophobic attack on a man in Dublin.
“We are still reeling from the vicious homophobic assault on Dame Street in Dublin in recent days and, now, we are deeply saddened by events in Sligo,” said LGBT Ireland chief executive Paula Fagan.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.
“These devastating crimes bring to the fore the need for comprehensive Hate Crime legislation, and I – along with other sectoral representatives – will be speaking with lawmakers over the coming days to stress the need for them to redouble their efforts and ensure the forthcoming legislation is effective, comprehensive and enacted with urgency.
“The LGBTI+ community has the right to feel and be safe on our streets, and online.”
LGBT Ireland Statement:https://t.co/dgcp7ojv9D
— LGBT Ireland (@LGBT_ie) April 13, 2022
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee earlier branded the killings as “atrocious crimes”.
“I also just want to say that I know it’s been a difficult week for the LGBT community,” she told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.
“There have been a number of incidents which I think have upset and have been distressing for people, speaking to my own friends indeed I would include in that.
“These are incidents that we thought were behind us and again I just want to reassure people that any crimes that are motivated by hate or by prejudice or by discrimination will not be tolerated, will carry higher sentences, and I hope to introduce the Hate Crime Bill (in the Dáil) in a number of weeks to respond to that.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on justice and equality Martin Kenny, who is also a Sligo-Leitrim TD, said the local community had been left numb with grief following the killings.
He expressed solidarity with the LGBT+ community “living in fear” following the news that gardaí are investigating a potential homophobic motivation to the killings.
“The murders of Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt have devastated the people of Sligo, who are today in shock and numb with grief. I want to extend my deepest sympathies with the families and friends of both of these men.
There is no room for hate or prejudice in our country
“While it is of some relief that the gardaí have apprehended a suspect, people are in disbelief that murders so savage and brutal could take place in their community.
“The fact that the gardaí are also investigating whether there was a homophobic element to these murders will be of deep concern to the LGBT+ community.
“The gardaí team have a dedicated diversity team here, and they have promised discretion and compassion to any witness who comes forward.”
Mr Kenny said Ireland “demonstrated our collective sense of inclusivity and solidarity with the LGBT+ community when we voted for marriage equality in 2015” but said “it is clear that we have a long way to go still.”
"Everyone should have the right to go about their daily lives feeling safe on our streets and in their homes,” he said.
“There is no room for hate or prejudice in our country, and I want to express my solidarity with the LGBT+ community and everyone affected by these harrowing attacks.”
Paula Fagan of LGBT Ireland said the killings, if due to a homophobic motive, “are on the extreme end of a spectrum of violence experienced by the LGBTI+ community and highlight the vulnerabilities and very real fears of the wider community.”
“In 2021 our National LGBT Helpline received 21 calls because of violence, and we fear that many more people do not report hate incidents to us or to the gardaí due to the normalisation of homophobia and transphobia in society.
“We know that the events in Sligo and Dublin over the past week will have left members of the LGBTI+ community reeling. Our helpline is available to all those in need of support.”
The National LGBT Helpline is available for emotional support on the freephone number 1800 929 539, seven days a week, from 6.30pm to 10pm Monday to Thursday, from 4pm to 10pm on Fridays, and from 4pm to 6pm at the weekend.
LGBT Ireland is also appealing for the general public to assist gardaí with their enquiries and investigation. Anyone with information or concerns can contact their local Garda station, and members of the Garda National Diversity and Integration Unit are also on standby to assist at 01 666 3150.