A Fianna Fáil TD has refused to answer questions on whether or not he raised the issue of Christian persecution in Iran when he met the country’s ambassador last week.
Niall Collins, who is the party’s frontbench spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, met with Masoud Eslami in Dublin for what he described as discussing issues of “mutual interest”.
However, when asked by The Irish Catholic if he raised the ongoing plight of persecuted Christians in the Islamic Republic Mr Collins pointedly refused to answer.
According to a series of reports on global religious freedom, Iran is ranked as one of the most ‘severe’ countries for religious persecution, where members of the 800,000 Christian community are routinely interred and tortured.
Mr Collins initially responded to questions from this newspaper by condemning attacks on Christians in general throughout the world and pointing to examples of when he raised the matter in the Dáil.
However, when pressed if he raised this matter specifically with the Iranian ambassador, the TD responded that it was a “private meeting”, and that he did not want to discuss this any further.
Commenting on the volatile attitude towards Christians in Iran, National Director at Aid to The Church in Need Michael Kinsella said that religious freedom is undermined in the country which has led to vicious persecution and discrimination.
“Iran consistently ranks up there with the most pernicious and the most violent and repressive laws against Christianity and against there being any semblance of a Christian culture,” he said, adding that many Christians are forced to worship and practise their faith underground.
Mr Kinsella also said that Irish politicians are “worryingly silent” on the issue of religious persecution and that Ireland should be “standing up” as a country to defend the rights of Christians.
“Even though Christians make up the vast majority, upwards of 90% of all persecution worldwide takes place against Christians, and it is rarely if ever raised at an international level, let alone a national level,” he said.