Wednesday 21 March 2018

Bodies of three Irish terrorism victims expected home today

Tourists look at flowers that have been laid on the beach near the scene of the massacre at the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia
Tourists look at flowers that have been laid on the beach near the scene of the massacre at the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia
A visitor signs a book of condolence in the Hayes’ home town of Athlone, Co Westmeath
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

The bodies of the three Irish citizens killed in the Tunisian terror attack are due to arrive back in Ireland today.

Mother-of-two Lorna Carty from Robinstown, Co Meath, and Athlone couple Larry and Martina Hayes, were callously shot dead by an Islamic State gunman in Friday's carnage.

Ireland's ambassador to Tunisia, David Cooney, has confirmed "considerable progress" in the repatriation of the remains had been made yesterday.

He added that he was "very hopeful" that once relevant paperwork was finalised, travel arrangements would go ahead.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also confirmed the formal identification process had been completed by the Tunisian authorities.

Mr Cooney is based in Madrid, but travelled to Tunisia on Friday to assist with the arrangements.

"There is a lot of paperwork you have to go through," he said.

"Certificates have to be issued and you've got to have your documentation for transportation."

He said his office had been working closely with travel insurers, who were responsible for repatriation. "We've been working to get the release of the remains, and to make sure all the documentation has been signed by local representatives," he added.

Meanwhile, a minute's silence was observed in the Dáil yesterday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny reiterated the Government's commitment to tackle terrorism head on, and said he had spoken with British Prime Minister David Cameron about a united approach in confronting Islamist extremism.

"We will be working together to do all we can to protect the freedom and security we hold dear," he said.

"Through the EU, we will work with Tunisia, to make sure that it remains a popular, secure, and peaceful, holiday destination.

"We will also work with our partners to end the threat of Isis [also known as Islamic State] with its savagery and hate.

"Equally, we stand with the people of Tunisia who feel shocked and betrayed," said Mr Kenny.

"This attack was an act of hatred. It was a rejection of the values of respect, equality and freedom which we hold so dear."

Hundreds of people turned out to sign a book of condolence opened yesterday in Athlone, Co Westmeath, for Lary and Martina Hayes.

It will remain at the Civic Centre from 9.30am to 4.30pm today, to facilitate the large numbers looking to add their messages of sympathy.

The couple, who lived at the West Lodge estate in the town, were preparing to travel to the airport at the end of their holiday in the resort of Sousse.

They are survived by their only daughter, Sinéad, and extended family.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Hayes's brother, Michael, said the family had not yet decided where the funeral would take place.

"Everything is still up in the air, and matters like that won't be decided until the bodies are back home. We're taking it one step at a time; their daughter Sinéad will make those decisions."

Irish Independent

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