Wednesday 13 December 2017

Hundreds of Irish holiday goers fly out to Tunisia despite deadly attack

Items left abandonded by tourist in the resort town of Sousse, were a gunman killed 37 people in a mass shooting
Items left abandonded by tourist in the resort town of Sousse, were a gunman killed 37 people in a mass shooting

David Kearns

Some 112 Irish holiday goers have chosen to fly out to Tunisia this evening despite a fatal attack that has left 37, including an Irishwoman, dead.

Irish firm Sunway Holidays said a chartered Aer Lingus flight had already left Dublin Airport, and only 58 of its passengers had chosen to take advantage of the company’s offer of a full refund.

“We had 170 people at the airport today, and we offered each of them the chance to cancel their trip for a full refund or to head to another destination," said a Sunway Holidays spokesperson.

Read More: Irishwoman killed in terror attack in Tunisia


Speaking to RTE’s Drivetime, they confirmed the flight left Dublin Airport at 6.30pm.

“Only 58 took up this offer. The rest are heading to Tunisia. Some of those heading out this evening are going to Sousse, and these people have been offered new hotels away from where this horrific attack took place.”

The Sunway Holidays flight was due to leave for Monastir airport in Tunisia at 3.30pm but was delayed for three hours on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Read More: 'Terror Friday' - Dozens killed in three attacks around the world

The holiday firm told Drivetime it would be organising flights for those customers wishing to return from Tunisia, saying their General Manager for North Africa was due to arrive in the country “first thing in the morning”.

“It’s just so sad that one individual could do something like this to completely defenceless  people,” their spokesperson said.

A Tunisian security member stands next to a swimming pool at the resort town of Sousse Credit: Fethi Belaid
A Tunisian security member stands next to a swimming pool at the resort town of Sousse Credit: Fethi Belaid

“A few people who were due to stay for another week or two have decided to come home, and we will of course help them to do so. The safety of our customers is paramount.”

Read More: Man decapitated at gas factory in France 'by attacker with Islamist black flag' 

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs has strongly advised holiday makers in Tunisia to follow the advice of the local authorities and to maintain contact with their tour organiser.

Minister Flanagan also moved to warn other Irish citizens who are planning to travel to Tunisia to "exercise extreme caution".

"Our priority at the moment is with those directly involved, they are remaining indoors in the hotel complex in Tunisia. 

"We are working with the families of the bereaved.  Our priority will be the safe return of Irish citizens at the earliest opportunity," he added. 

"Our travel advice of anyone thinking in terms of travelling to Tunisia, is to exercise extreme caution on the matter of proceeding and I would be happy to make further information available as soon as it comes to hand."

Read More: 25 killed, over 200 wounded in Kuwait mosque attack

The attack happened at two hotels in the town, which is one of Tunisia’s most popular resorts with European tourists.

It is understood that the victim was on the beach when the attack happened. Her husband is not believed to have been on the beach at the time.

It is understood the family is prominent in Meath GAA circles.

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