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Saturday 25 November 2017

'A few crazy people cannot change the way you live your life' - How the Irish are 'sticking up for Paris'

Elaine Howley pictured in Paris
Elaine Howley pictured in Paris
Elaine Howley and her friend Kevin Roberts, pictured on the Champs Élysées
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A young Irish woman living in Paris has said recent terror attacks have not deterred her plans to live in the city, and have instead strengthened the Irish community's love for the French capital.

Elaine Howley (26), from Carrigaline, Co Cork, has been living in Paris for four years.

She says the attacks have only emphasised the sense of community between both the locals and expats.

"[The attacks] are not something that make you want to leave Paris," she told

"In fact, they almost make you want to stay more.

"Life has to go on. After the Bataclan attacks, everyone here was almost like, 'let's go out and let's show that this won't affect us'

Elaine Howley and her friend Kevin Roberts, pictured on the Champs Élysées
Elaine Howley and her friend Kevin Roberts, pictured on the Champs Élysées

"A few crazy people cannot change the way you live your life.

"Most of my Irish friends here are sticking up for Paris."

Security in the capital is at an all-time high following a recent series of suspected terror incidents and a national state of emergency remains in place throughout France.

In the latest attack, a gunman identified as Karim Cheurfi opened fire on a police vehicle parked on the Champs Elysees in Paris late on Thursday, killing one officer and injuring two others before being shot dead.

The Department of Foreign Affairs have warned ​Irish citizens in France to exercise a high degree of caution after the attack, which was claimed by Isis. Irish citizens are also asked to be vigilant in public places and to be in possession of a valid form of photographic identification such as a passport or passport card at all times.

Elaine said she regularly hosts friends and family from Ireland and felt people were initially "hesitant" to come to Paris after the Bataclan attacks.

"At the start, people were hesitant. I seem to read and hear more [about the attacks] from home," she said.

"Paris is a very small city, but you still feel distanced from it when you're here.

"There is no difference in the atmosphere here. We're almost at the stage where people don't really want to talk about it anymore.

"We do go out for one or two drinks in the evening, and when they targeted people sitting out during the Bataclan attacks I did think that could have been me," she continued.

"We had just sat down at a different bar when they suddenly closed up because the news was coming through.

"But you can't make life choices around it."

Elaine, who works as a channel program account manager at Dell EMC, believes the career opportunities for a bilingual speaker are better in France.

"I think opportunity-wise there's more for me here at the moment. And I love the culture," she added.

Meanwhile, an Irish priest that works in Paris said the terror seen on Thursday has become a familiar sight.

"Armed police and soldiers were to be seen in the nearby Metro station and at every street corner. This has become a familiar sight since the 2015 attacks in Paris," Fr Aidan Troy, based in St Joseph's Catholic Church in Paris, said.

The former Belfast-based priest added that it was business as usual the following morning.

"Early the next morning, I saw a city rally and begin a new day with courage and resolve.

"Restaurants opened, shops began to sell. I cycled through the city to a school where an Easter celebration had been planned at a nearby church.

"Over 300 children, of all religions and none, took part in this lovely ceremony. They were supported by parents and brave teachers. Police kept a watchful eye to ensure our safety," he said.

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