Wednesday 18 January 2017

'Everyone is horrified' - MEP Brian Hayes on Brussels Metro just minutes before blast

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

Published 22/03/2016 | 10:31

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes

Dublin MEP Brian Hayes was on the Brussels Metro this morning around forty minutes before the bomb attack on Maalbeek station.

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Mr Hayes is currently in the European Parliament with polticians and staff advised not to leave due to the proximity of the blast.

"Everyone is absolutely horrified because it comes so close," he told Independent.ie.

He said that he sometimes uses Brussels airport up to four times a week and that the Metro Station that was hit is near the main EU instuition headquarters in the city centre.

"I got the Metro into work at about twenty past eight. I left the train station which is actually one stop away fromthe Maalbeek station

"I think the bomb occured... about 40 minutes later."

He said his family is safe but that the proximity of the attack to the EU buildings where thousand so people work is "quite terrifying".

"I'm here in Parliament at the moment we had an economics committee meeting which was suspended but then theydecided to keep going.

"We were told to stay here in parliament, not to leave because the other blast site... [is] very close to where the parliament is and right beside the Commission Building, the Berlaymont.

"No one knows exactly what's happening but... but clearly there was a planned coordinated attack."

Brussels has been on high alert since the Paris terror attacks last year.

"People see the army on the streets," Mr Hayes said but he added: "I got no sense of people feeling insecure... People were getting on with their lives after the incidents some months ago."

He said today's attacks come at a "particularly difficult" time.

"This is a time of the year where everybody is on the move. This is a very internationalised city. People from all parts of Europe live here and their familieis live here and use the airport every singel week and the schools are only off since last Friday for a two-week holidday like everyone else back home."

"Every single day there's Irish people coming in and out of here [the Parliament] so it's a real shock," he added.

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