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'We watched it all from across the street,' says Westmeath man

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Colm Hogan (in middle) from Westmeath

Colm Hogan (in middle) from Westmeath

Colm Hogan (in middle) from Westmeath

An Irish man who works across the road from the scene has spoken of the terror in his office as the gunman held innocent people hostage.

Colm Hogan (right), who works at Macquarie Bank, situated just across the road from the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Martin Place, described how he and his colleagues could see "hostages up against the windows".

"It started at around 9.45am and we got word of it within a couple of minutes. People were saying there was a commotion in Martin Place," the 24-year-old from Westmeath explained

"We were up on the seventh floor just across the street. Word just passed through the building and we all started kind of gathering around the window and looking down. At the time it was just after happening so the police were clearing the streets.

"At first there was a lot of confusion. It was like Chinese whispers. People were talking, saying there was an ISIS flag, that there were parcels found at the Opera House. But it was all conjecture; nobody really knew what was going on. That was probably the worst part of it.

"Our office is on the corner of Martin Place, so we were diagonally across from the cafe.

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"We could see the hostages up against the windows, but we couldn't see the flag, because that was down closer to the door.

"There was definitely a sense of fear in the office. At the start, people didn't know what was going on, but the longer it progressed, we began to realise that it was pretty serious," he added. "We were told by police to stay indoors and away from the windows at about 10.30am, and by 11am we were told that all non-essential staff could leave. We evacuated at about 11.30am.

"There are two exists to our building, and one of them faces towards the cafe, and that was obviously cordoned off.

"You couldn't go near that exit, so we had to exit from the back of the building."

Mr Hogan, who moved to Australia last year, said that staff were unable to return to the office this morning, instead moving into an old office situated further down in Martin Place.

hnews@herald.ie


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