Sunday 26 March 2017

Families informed of 'strong suspicion' that Irish husband and wife have been killed in Tunisia massacre

A Tunisian security member stands next to a swimming pool at the resort town of Sousse, a popular tourist destination 140 kilometres (90 miles) south of the Tunisian capital, on June 26, 2015, following a shooting attack. At least 27 people, including foreigners, were killed in a mass shooting at a Tunisian beach resort packed with holidaymakers, in the North African country's worst attack in recent history. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAIDFETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images
A Tunisian security member stands next to a swimming pool at the resort town of Sousse, a popular tourist destination 140 kilometres (90 miles) south of the Tunisian capital, on June 26, 2015, following a shooting attack. At least 27 people, including foreigners, were killed in a mass shooting at a Tunisian beach resort packed with holidaymakers, in the North African country's worst attack in recent history. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAIDFETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The families of an Irish husband and wife have been informed that it is highly likely they have lost their lives in Sousse tourist massacre.

The couple have been named locally as Laurence (Larry) and Martina Hayes.

The Irish death toll  in the Tunisian terrorist attack is expected to officially rise to three tomorrow.

The Department of Foreign Affairs have been in contact with the couple's family, informing them of their "strong suspicion" that they are among the 37 tourists killed in terrorist attack.

However, it is not likely to be confirmed until tomorrow at the earliest.

A formal identification process is currently underway and Irish consulate staff are making every effort to complete it in a timely manner.

Only after this process has been completed will the department confirm the sad news.

The couple, who are understood to be in their fifties, are from Athlone, Co Westmeath.

Fears for the couple's safety following the attack heightened throughout the day.

News of their deaths comes less than 24 hours after it was confirmed Irish nurse and mum-of-two Lorna Carty lost her life in the attack. Ms Carty was from Robinstown, close to Navan, Co Meath.

Read more here: Fifteen British tourists confirmed dead in Tunisia - but death toll is expected to rise  

This afternoon, Foreign Affairs minister Charlie Flanagan issued a statement saying there is "grave concern for two other citizens who had been at the scene of the attacks at Sousse, Tunisia".

"The process of full and formal identification of victims is continuing in Tunis and will take a period of time before it is completed. The Irish Ambassador and Consul are on the ground in Tunisia, working closely with the Tunisian authorities," he said.

Mr Flanagan also stated his department is providing consular support to the grieving family of married mum-of-two Lorna Carty. Ms Carty was on holidays with her husband Declan when the attack occurred.

"As of now, the Irish Embassy team is not aware of any other cases of potential concern in relation to Irish citizens. We will continue to actively monitor the situation pending full identification of all those who have died and who have been injured," he said.

The minister is now urging Irish tourists to exercise caution if travelling to Tunisia.

"My Department’s travel advice for Tunisia, which was changed yesterday in the light of the attack, is to exercise extreme caution. While the Tunisian authorities have declared this incident to be over, we would urge Irish citizens in Tunisia to remain vigilant and to follow any instructions given by the police, tour operator, and hotel staff.

"Those wishing to contact my Department’s  Consular Support service can continue to do so throughout the rest of the weekend by calling the Department’s main telephone line 01 4082000.

"I have condemned in the strongest terms these terrorist attacks. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the families of all the deceased.

"The Ambassador of Ireland accredited to Tunisia, David Cooney, also met EU counterparts in Tunis today to review the situation on the ground. The Embassy team will keep me and the government updated through the days ahead."

More to follow

'It's so senseless, stupid and tragic' - Irish mother locked herself in bathroom with family when 'gun battle' began

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