Wednesday 22 November 2017

Irish people gather to sign Book of Condolence and pay respect to Manchester Arena victims

'As Christians we’re supposed to love our enemies but how far do we go?'

Rebecca Lumley

Irish people paid tribute to the victims of the Manchester bombing this morning as a Book of Condolence was laid out by the Lord Mayor of Dublin in the Mansion House.

Minister Simon Coveney was one of the first to sign the book, as a steady stream of people arrived to pay their respects to the victims of the "absolutely devastating" tragedy.

At least 22 people were killed and dozens more injured when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena on Monday night. Many of the victims of the attack were teenagers and children, with 8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos named as the youngest fatality.

A number of people are still missing following the attack by British-born Salman Abedi, who had “proven links” with Islamic terror group Islamic State, according to the French interior minister.

One man who arrived to sign the book described the attack as "just horrible" and urged people to stand together with Muslims to combat the extremist group’s "terror tactics".

Speaking to Independent.ie, Patrick Redmond said: "I think we need to make a stand. It’s probably more than likely trying to create a backlash against the ordinary Muslims in England and it is terror tactics, we need to stand up and support them and we need to eradicate the evil that’s going on.

"As Christians we’re supposed to love our enemies but how far do we go?"

He added: "I just think it’s horrible. Children have no defence, nobody expected it. I think there has to be a strong hand and iron will to sort it out, one way or another."

Roisín Warren, who came to sign the book with her young daughter, reflected Mr Redmond’s sympathies.

She said: "What happened on Monday is just devastating, I mean young people out having a good time and for that to happen to them. It’s just unbelievable, there’s no words that can describe it.

"God help them, that’s all I can say."

Another who came to pay her respects was Madeline Doyle, a grandmother who told of her empathy for the victim’s families.

Ms Doyle said: "I woke up at 1 o’clock and I turned on the radio and heard of the tragedy, so I turned on the television and was up most of the night. It’s just so, so upsetting.

"I have a grandson and I’d be terrified now if I heard of him going (to a concert). You can’t stop young people but it’s just awful, awful."

Ms Doyle said the growing wave of anti-Islamic sentiment may be to blame for the slew of attacks experienced in Europe over the last few years.

She said: "I don’t think Muslims get the hassle (in Ireland) that they would over there. We really have very little of that here. Most people live and let live but over there there’s such a mix of different countries, you’ll always get that sort of thing."

Costa Rican native Mark Johnson agreed that while the tragedy may be rooted in religious hatred, people must stand in solidarity in the face of such attacks.

He said: "I think that as humans of any place, any race, we need to stand together against these kinds of things and let everybody know that even though we have differences, we should still stick together."

Mr Johnson said such events make you feel "disappointed to be a human" and that the death of children because "we don’t understand each other" is "really disappointing."

He added: "What we need to figure out is how we react to this, whether we react with violence, we react by trying to increase security or we react by trying to understand each other- it’s difficult to solve."

One of the oldest people to sign the book was World War II veteran, Michael Cummins. He said it is now up to the Irish Government to "wake up" to the country’s security concerns because "we’re not too safe here."

With family members living in Manchester, Mr Cummins described the events as "very, very sad."

"They’re our next door neighbours and we depend on them a lot. I thought it’d be only appropriate for me to come and sign the book."

Security concerns were mirrored by Frank Walpole, who said the world had “gone mad.”

Speaking about the threat of a similar attack happening in Ireland, Mr Walpole said: "We like to think we’re a neutral country but you really wouldn’t know.

"Evil is evil and evil can strike anywhere."

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr officially opened the Book of Condolence at 10am on Wednesday morning. It will stay open until 4pm today and will also be available to sign tomorrow.

Mr Carr described the deep impact the tragedy has had on many Irish people and encouraged solidarity in "this dark hour."

He said: "There’s a very long and very friendly relationship between the people of Manchester and Dublin and in this dark hour it’s vitally important that we’re all standing shoulder to shoulder, that we’re standing beside them, that this is hurting people in Dublin just as much as it’s hurting people in Manchester.

"To see a city so close to us, that we can relate to so closely, to see so many innocent people, both young and old being attacked in this manner is something that I just can’t comprehend."

A Book of Condolence was also opened at Cork City Hall this morning by Lord Mayor Cllr Des Cahill. It will remain open until Tuesday, June 6.

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