'Rainbow vigil': Thousands turn out in Dublin to honour those killed in Orlando shooting
Leo Varadkar calls for solidarity with Orlando and defiance against terrorists
THOUSANDS gathered in Dublin City Centre for a silent vigil in memory of those killed during the Orlando mass shooting.
The vigil, organised by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), took place on Dame Street, with many of those attending draped in the rainbow flag.
The memorial started with victims' names being read out, followed by a moment of silence. It was concluded with a rendition of 'Over the Rainbow' by Gloria, Dublin's LGBT choir.
Gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 men and women and injured 53 at Orlando gay venue Pulse early Sunday morning in the worst mass shooting in American history.
A number of politicians attended the solemn event, including Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, Housing Minister Simon Coveney and TD Mary Lou McDonald. Speaking to Independent.ie after the ceremony, Minister Varadkar said it's important that events in Florida don't put people off celebrating LGBT Pride.
"It's exactly what terrorists or people who are homophobic want. They want to frighten us. We can't allow them to do that," he said.
"Pride last year was a celebration of the referendum result. This year's has to be a celebration, but also a parade of solidarity with those in Florida and defiance against those who would seek to use violence, terrorism and hatred to force people to change the way they live their lives."
The vigil sends an important message to the people affected by Sunday's massacre that we are standing alongside them, according to GLEN Director Brien Sheehan.
"Thousands of Irish people are clearly using us this evening to send a message of solidarity. To say that our hearts are broken too," he said.
"Now is a moment where we can clearly say 'no more'."
Among those attending the vigil was Emma Murphy, who said she came down to show how sickened she was while reading about the Sunday morning massacre.
"It is senseless to imagine that members of a community happy, dancing, socialising and enjoying a night out can be gunned down.
"I feel hurt and angry but not threatened and the strength of the numbers show the determination and solidarity of the LGBT community in Ireland and of our unity with the LGBT community globally."
Tallaght native Eoin Hendrix showed up to show solidarity and support for the families and friends of those who were killed and injured.
"Acts of hatred like these just hit home how much there is a need for Pride and the Pride movement," he said.
The fear or the threats that people feel should fuel us coming together and show the world that these actions are not okay and we won't let hatred defeat us or tear us apart."
Vigils in Cork, Galway and Limerick will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday.In Galway, a candle-lit vigil will take place in Eyre Square. Cork's event will be held at Daunt Square, while people in Limerick can pay tribute at Arthur's Quay Park.