Monday 5 December 2016

'Like a tank over crowds celebrating St Patrick's Day'

Conor Feehan and Niall O'Connor

Published 16/07/2016 | 02:30

Leslie Maliepaard and her daughter Ava (4) at the French embassy in Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA
Leslie Maliepaard and her daughter Ava (4) at the French embassy in Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA
The French Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Pierre Thebault. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The French Ambassador to Ireland has compared the actions of the terrorist who killed more than 80 people in Nice to rolling a tank over the crowds enjoying St Patrick's Day celebrations on O'Connell Street.

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"It is difficult to describe the feelings of shock and grief that such a terrorist attack could target so many innocent families and children," Mr Jean-Pierre Thebault said.

"People were out celebrating a national holiday and this attack was designed to deviate from that.

"The message that we are getting from France is that 84 people have been killed but this could rise because there are 10 to 15 people who are critically ill.

"We have also heard that a substantial number of the dead are children.

"It is hard to imagine how anybody driven by a deviant ideology, with a deviant mind and attitude, could use a truck like a tank to mow over so many people.

"He was a carrier of a message of hate.

"In Irish terms, it would be like rolling over the crowd gathered to celebrate St Patrick's Day on O'Connell Street. It seems that some people want an instant of fame. There could be more of these people out there."

Mr Thebault said the messages of support coming from Ireland were exactly what the people of France needed to hear now.

"We saw it with the numbers of Irish fans who travelled in such impressive numbers to France for Euro 2016," said Mr Thebault.

"They went despite the terror threat and showed solidarity with the French people and everyone in the free world to send a message that the terrorists will not win.

"This is the right answer to the terrorists - the messages of support.

"It sends the right message to the families of the victims too that the people of the free world support them in their grief."

Appalling

President Higgins, who spoke to Mr Thebault yesterday, said: "With its appalling loss of life, including children, (this attack) will be received with revulsion by all those who value democracy."

The President and his wife Sabina will be the first to sign the book of condolences, which is due to open in Dublin's Mansion House on Monday morning.

It will be open from 10am-4pm on Monday and Tuesday to allow people here to express their sympathies and support to those in France.

Irish Independent

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