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Reactions to attack: 'It is just beyond words'

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Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins

Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace after a shooting at the Paris headquarters of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo killing at least 12 people and injuring many, January 7, 2015

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace after a shooting at the Paris headquarters of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo killing at least 12 people and injuring many, January 7, 2015

REUTERS

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Michael D Higgins

A POLITICAL cartoonist, who welcomed one of the slain 'Charlie Hebdo' artists to Ireland, has described the mass shooting as "beyond words".

Martyn Turner, an organiser of Rathdrum, Co Wicklow's former Guinness International Cartoon Festival, said Bernard Verlhac, also known by his pseudonym Tignous, travelled to the event on two occasions in the 1990s. He described him as "young, very enthusiastic and cheerful".

Mr Turner added: "It is just beyond words."

But he said cartoonists, like journalists, have often been the victims of terrorist threats.

Contributor to the Irish Independent Niall O'Loughlin said: "Like reporters, cartoonists see their work as a form of free speech. What happened in Paris is an affront to that. It's hard to believe that such an attack could take place."

Last night, President Michael D Higgins said he had written to French president Francois Hollande to offer the sympathy of the Irish people.

"I wish to express my sincerest condolences to the families of all those bereaved and affected by (this) tragedy, including the two police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

"All of our thoughts are with the people of France, who have experienced such a dreadful and brutal tragedy and such an unjustifiable loss of innocent life."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was "appalled", while Tanaiste Joan Burton said the shooting "represents an attack on freedom of expression and an attack on tolerance. Freedom of expression and tolerance are cornerstones of any modern pluralist democracy, and no grievance, disagreement, difference of viewpoint, or perceived offence can justify (such) an attack."

Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan said: "Such attacks will only strengthen our resolve to vigorously uphold and defend (democracy and freedom) in the face of hatred and violence.

"I hope and expect that the perpetrators of this appalling crime will be quickly brought to justice."

The Department of Foreign Affairs advised Irish citizens in Paris to follow security advice issued by French authorities.

Irish Independent


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A woman raises a pen during a vigil to pay tribute to the victims of a shooting by gunmen at the offices of weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, at Trafalgar Square in London January 7, 2015. Video