Thursday 17 August 2017

President and Tanaiste send Ireland's sympathy to people of Norway

Shane Hickey

PRESIDENT McAleese and the Government have sent messages of sympathy to the Norwegian king and prime minister following the fatal bomb and shooting attacks in the country.

Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said Ireland stood in solidarity with Norway following the "horrific" events.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said some 300 Irish citizens were resident in the greater Oslo area but there had so far been no reports of fatalities or injuries so far.

Mr Gilmore sent messages to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and foreign minister Jonas Gahr-Stoere, expressing a great "sense of shock" that was felt by the Irish people.

"The Tanaiste has conveyed sympathy in respect of the deaths and injuries that have occurred and has expressed Ireland's solidarity with Norway in face of this horrific event," a statement said.

President McAleese also sent her condolences. A statement from Aras an Uachtarain said: "President McAleese has extended her condolences to King Harald of Norway and the Norwegian people on behalf of the Irish people, in light of the terrible atrocity which was inflicted on them earlier today."

The Irish Embassy, which employs two diplomats and three locals, is located less than a 10-minute walk from where the blast happened in the government area of the capital.

Ireland's ambassador to Norway, Gary Ansboro, last night told the Irish Independent that most civil servants working in the area had gone home at the time of the blast because of the summer holidays.

He said: "We have been checking up on the various Irish people that we know who have been working downtown and they are safe and well.

"I have been in touch with a fair number of Irish and there is nothing untoward that we are aware of on the Irish side, thank God.

"Our building shook. We thought it was an earthquake. Oslo is such a peaceful place. I thought it might possibly be an explosion -- there are a lot of tunnels in Oslo for traffic -- but it quickly became apparent it was certainly a bomb and they are still working on whether it was a car bomb or not."

"It is extremely shocking for the people of Oslo. They may have had minor incidents in the past but they have never experienced anything like this since the Second World War. One always felt very secure in this city so I imagine people are feeling very vulnerable."

Anyone who has concerns about relatives has been asked to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs at (01) 478 0822.

Irish Independent

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