Editor’s comment: I am so proud of our unity in face of horror

Neighbours from the Elthorne Estate sorting the donations for Grenfell Tower. Picture: CATHERINE DAV

Neighbours from the Elthorne Estate sorting the donations for Grenfell Tower. Picture: CATHERINE DAVISON - Credit: Archant

It’s a sad fact that it often takes a tragedy to open our eyes to the good around us.

A terrorist attack on a crowd of worshippers. A devastating inferno that turned a tower block into a tomb for the sake of cutting a few corners.

These are catastrophes, plain and simple. There is grieving to do, and blame to apportion, and questions we must all ask about the changes that are needed to stop them happening again.

But I would challenge anyone to look at the mountain of donations at the St John’s Community Centre; to read our report of the vigil for the victims of the Finsbury Park attack and look at the pictures of a community united against hate; and not to feel proud of Islington.

Richard Watts said on Monday that we have seen the best and worst of people this week.

He was speaking about the Great Get Together events across Islington, and beyond, that brought together different parts of the community to remind us that we have, as Jo Cox said, more in common. How poignant that Brendan, her widower, was at the vigil to pay his respects.

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But we have not seen the worst of Islington: only the best. Hours after Cllr Watts said those words, 400 people gathered at Finsbury park Mosque to pay their respects and stand shoulder to shoulder to say: not in my name.

Finsbury Park could have reacted to the attack by rejecting that message, battening down the hatches and turning kinship into suspicion and fear. Instead, we saw an outpouring of generosity, compassion, sympathy, and righteous fury that anyone would dare try and divide us. Those qualities were already there, and sadly there will be others in time who will ignore them just as the van driver did in the early hours of Monday morning.

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But they won’t win: Islington is so much stronger than that.

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