Sunday 25 September 2016

Irish pay tribute to Orlando victims

Ciara Treacy, Martin Grant, and Cormac McQuinn

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

Críona Ní Dhálaigh, the lord mayor of Dublin signs a book of condolences for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida in the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Críona Ní Dhálaigh, the lord mayor of Dublin signs a book of condolences for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida in the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

Tributes have poured in from across Ireland for the victims of the Orlando massacre.

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny wrote to US President Barack Obama to express his sympathies on behalf of the Irish people following the "shocking loss of life".

"Once again we have witnessed the horror of young people being attacked as they enjoy themselves in their own community," the Taoiseach said.

President Michael D Higgins said the incident was "truly shocking and challenges us all".

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has described Donald Trump's comments following the massacre as "crass" but stressed that politicians still have to meet with Trump later this month.

Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday that he appreciated the "congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism".

"I thought it was pretty crass and I thought it was pretty tasteless and it's unfortunate to see anyone from any political perspective trying to exploit an event like this," said Mr Varadkar.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said the LGBT community "will feel under attack" after the atrocity and added it was "a terrible day for America".

Thousands signed a Book of Condolences at the Mansion House yesterday.

Meanwhile, a 'rainbow vigil' was held beside Dublin's City Hall by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), BeLong To and the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).

Read more: 'Rainbow vigil': Thousands turn out in Dublin to honour those killed in Orlando shooting

Director of GLEN Brian Sheehan said: "I think LGBT people in Ireland and across the world felt attacked because it was an attack of hatred on them. This vigil is a gesture of support and solidarity towards them."

Meanwhile, Chris Sarafan, a Florida man living in Dublin, has paid tribute to his friend Chris 'Drew' Leinonen after discovering he was among those killed in the mass shooting.

"He was the type of guy you could meet wherever and have a conversation with him like you were friends for years," he said.

Panti Bliss, owner of Dublin's Panti Bar, was "shocked, horrified, heartbroken" at the tragedy. "Having spent so much of my life and so many of my best happiest times in gay clubs, I can't even grasp the horror of it," he said.

The George bar has set up a fundraiser to help the victims and families.

Irish Independent

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