President grieves for her husband's tragic cousin
PRESIDENT Mary McAleese last night led the nation's tributes to the six people killed in yesterday's air crash as it emerged one of the victims was a cousin of her husband, Martin.
As the full extent of the tragedy unfolded, the president spoke movingly of the grieving families and friends "whose hearts are surely broken" over the "abrupt and devastating loss of their loved ones".
Attending an award ceremony in her honour at the Trinity College Philosophical Society, Mrs McAleese revealed one of the victims was Northern Ireland businessman Brendan McAleese.
"I am especially conscious of the pain being experienced tonight by all of the bereaved as one of the deceased was Brendan McAleese, my husband Martin's cousin," she told those gathered at the event held to honour her work as president for the past 14 years.
"His family have lost a fine and loving husband, father, son and brother and their awful grief is replicated in the lives of all those who lost their loved ones in today's crash."
She also spoke about the survivors and said the country sent its "heartfelt wishes" for a quick and full recovery from the immense trauma they had experienced.
"Their survival was greatly assisted by the prompt actions of the emergency personnel, both at Cork Airport and Cork University Hospital, whose vital and timely intervention today is to be highly commended."
Taoiseach Brian Cowen expressed his shock and sadness at the news of the tragedy and said his thoughts were with all of those affected by the crash, including the families and friends of those who had died.
Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers expressed their shock at the deaths of passengers on board the flight.
"This is a terrible tragedy and my thoughts are with the families of the bereaved," said First Minister Peter Robinson.
"I am shocked at this news and want to convey my condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in the plane crash," said deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
The Irish Airline Pilots' Association also offered its condolences to the families and friends of the crew and passengers who were killed or injured.
In a joint statement, the Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley and Bishop Noel Treanor of Down called for prayers for those killed and injured.
"We ask people of faith, North and South, to pray for those who have died and for their loved ones," it said.
Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross Paul Colton said everyone was shocked and hugely saddened by what had happened.
"The solidarity, love and prayers of us all in the Church of Ireland community go out to all who are caught up in this tragedy," he said.
Manx2.com chairman Noel Hayes described it as a "terrible day" and said it had been a terrible shock to all of them. Their thoughts were with the families of those who lost their lives and those who were injured.