Monday 24 October 2016

Paris Terror Attacks: Irish priest says 'you didn’t know where the next shot was going to be fired’ on streets of French capital

Published 16/11/2015 | 08:23

Father Aidan Troy
Father Aidan Troy

An Irish priest who is stationed in Paris has described the horror of the terror attacks and said panic gripped the streets of the French capital.

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Father Aidan Troy, from Wicklow, who is the parish priest in St Joseph’s Catholic Church, near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, said that he was with three French families for a meal  in a house in the city when news of the attacks broke.

“I was scared because I have been through a little bit in my time and I realise I’m not that brave about it. I knew caution was needed.

“I was here for the Charlie Hebdo incident in January. While that was utterly horrific, it was focused on the magazine offices. It wasn’t a city-wide assault. This was a football stadium, restaurant, a rock concert, so you didn’t know where the next shot was going to be fired.”

He said as soon as the severity of the attacks became clear, he raced back to his church to open its doors in case people needed shelter.

“When the news started to come in, phones began to ping and I got back to the Church as quickly as I could to try and help.”

Speaking on Morning Ireland today, Father Troy said that the city has changed dramatically since the attacks of Friday night.

“We had five masses yesterday and I am in total admiration for the bravery of people who came out but the city is “very subdued”.  Although some schools and work places are re-opening this morning, Father Troy said that there is an “underlying fear” in the city. 

“I went out last night for a walk and it was very quiet. I cycled over to a school this morning to give a talk to some pupils and it was a strange atmosphere. The school was surrounded by the police. People are going to work and schools are reopening but it is a different city now."

It is not the first time Fr Aidan Troy has found himself at the centre of international headlines.  He was the priest who found himself caught in the global spotlight in 2001 -2002 when he accompanied Catholic schoolchildren on their walk to school after Northern Ireland loyalists against Catholic children walking to the Holy Cross school in Belfast.

The Wicklow priest decided to accompany the child on their daily walk to and from school after Catholic children and their parents were subjected to a daily gauntlet of abusive and often violent protest.

The protest ended after he gave an impassioned televised sermon in which he pointed out that the only other place in the world where little girls were denied an education was under the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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