SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has urged people in Derry and throughout the North to learn the lessons from the Holocaust and subsequent genocides (in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur) and apply them to the present day to create a safer, brighter future for all.
Mr Durkan, who joined students from Derry on a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2008, is encouraging people to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday 27th January (the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp).
He said: “Anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice are still present in society – this Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the evil that was perpetrated during the Holocaust and pledge to create a safer, brighter future for all.
“It is an important opportunity to remember not only the victims of the Holocaust but subsequent genocides.
“I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to mark the day and to join the fight against prejudice and intolerance.”
Mr Durkan, who signed the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment in Westminster this week, also met up with the Rwandan Minister for Education and High Commissioner who were in London briefing MPs about the Kwibuka Flame which earlier this month set off on a countrywide lap of honour as Rwanda steps up commemoration activities ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide.
The Foyle MP has also said that the new national Holocaust commission (which Prime Minister David Cameron announced in September) should explore giving a UK-wide envelope of funding to the Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project – not least for students in Northern Ireland.
He added: “This project was originally funded through a grant from the Treasury, which allowed the programme to be extended to Northern Ireland on one occasion in which I took part. However, a subsequent decision was made that the money should come from the Department for Education’s budget.
“That resulted in the Holocaust Educational Trust having to busk around for money in order to continue to do their work in the devolved territories – and the programme has not been available in Northern Ireland since 2008.
“Indeed, if there is one place in the UK that could benefit in a particularly poignant way from learning the lessons from Auschwitz about prejudice and intolerance, it is Northern Ireland.”