Thousands gather at vigils across Ireland in memory of Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt

Members of the LGBTQ+ community came together in vigils held in many cities in Ireland to pay tribute to the two men murdered in Sligo.

A photo of one of the vigils held in Cork, Ireland, in memory of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee.
Image: PH: Tasha Barnes

Over the long weekend, thousands of people participated in vigils held in towns and cities across all of Ireland to pay tribute to Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt, the two men who were murdered last week in Sligo in separate homophobic attacks.

The funerals of the two men took place yesterday in separate services in Roscommon and Sligo, where the local community gathered to mourn their losses.

Across the whole country, many more people gathered at vigils, the majority of which were organised by LGBTQ+ groups, as the queer community in Ireland was deeply impacted by the homophobic attacks. Here we reflect on some of the moments that happened during the vigils so that we will be able to look back at them and witness the strength and compassion that our community is capable of.

In Sligo, where the two murders took place and the local community was affected the most, hundreds of people attended the vigil in front of the Town Hall on Friday, April 15. One of the speakers at the vigil was Isaac Griffin, from Sligo Pride, who addressed the crowd saying “It has been extremely shocking for our community and for Sligo as a whole”. He added, “I want to extend my deepest sympathies towards the families and friends as they grieve their losses and process these traumas at this time.”

Dr Jamshaid Sulehri of the Sligo Leitrim Islamic Cultural Society also attended the vigil to express solidarity and said that the Muslim community is “devastated” because of what happened to the two men. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with them on behalf of all the Muslims in Sligo and Leitrim,” he said.

On the same day in Dublin, a large crowd also gathered at the gates of the Dáil in a display of rainbow flags that stood as a powerful symbol of the resilience of the queer community even in the face of such tragic events. Many addressed the crowd during the vigil, including spokespersons from the LGBTQ+ groups NXF, BeLong To, ShoutOut, TENI, Dublin Pride and LGBT Ireland.

Islamic theologian Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, founder of the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council (IMPIC) also presided at the vigil and spoke the following words: “We come here to attest to our togetherness: to tell the world that we will face down the cruel dehumanisation and otherisation of LGBTQI people, together. That we will beat homophobia, together.”

Before the event ended, Gloria DLGC, Dublin’s Lesbian and Gay Choir, sang in an emotional performance to pay tribute to the two men.

In Cork, a vigil was organised by the Gay Project, LINC and Cork Pride on Monday, April 18. Almost 500 people gathered there to listen to the tributes in memory of Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt. Ailsa Spindler, the coordinator of the Gay Project, took the opportunity to remind everyone that it was only two and a half years from the homophobic murder of Timmy Hourihane, which happened in the city. “That brings it home that homophobia, transphobia, hate, bigotry, is all around us, and we all have a duty to fight it, to call it out when we see it, and to be allies to those members of our community who are marginalised for whatever reason,” she said.

On Friday, the queer community in Wexford showed up on the Quay, where Wexford Pride volunteer Veronica Victor spoke about how visibility for the LGBTQ+ community is an act of defiance against isolation, which is a reality that many queer people, especially those who live in small towns, have to face in their lives.

“Your queerness is one of the many gifts you have to give to the world. If you hide that gift then the other scared queers who pass you on the street won’t know that you’re more alike than different.” Veronica said “I have been that queer in this very town wishing, begging, to spot another of my kind in the crowd. That’s the safety measures we should be spreading. Be louder! Be bigger! Be too strong and too many in number!”

During the vigil held in Kildare, the community listened to the words of Social Democrat Councillor Chris Pender, who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community and said: “I want to see people stand with us, like right now, and I want to know that if you hear homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, you will call it out, and if you have children, to speak to them about it; that you won’t allow it to be a joke, because the more and more you let those jokes slip, people become more and more willing to say something worse or may think its OK to use violence against LGBTQ+ people.”

In Waterford, hundreds of people gathered in John Robert’s Square and observed a minute of silence in memory of the two men. In Belfast, the crowd that gathered for the vigil decided to do the opposite and held a “minute of noise” to symbolise the need for the LGBTQ+ community to be visible and have their voices heard.

Many more vigils happened in other parts of Ireland including Ardee, Arklow, Ballina, Blessington, Bray, Buncrana, Carlow, Carrickmacross, Cavan Town, Clonmel, Derry, Drogheda, Dundalk, Falcarragh, Galway, Kells, Kerry, Killaloe, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Carrick, Limerick, Louth, Mullingar, Navan, Omagh, Tullamore.
Some vigils to mourn the deaths of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee were organised outside of Ireland and took place at the weekend including at the London Irish Centre for anyone there who wished to pay tribute to the two victims.

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