Children's flowers and words carry message of sympathy

 

A bouquet of white and yellow flowers carrying the message "In loving memory of the victims of the Omagh bombing from the children of Dublin" summed up the poignancy of a day when thousands of people all over Ireland expressed their sympathy and sadness.

Books of condolences were opened in every part of Ireland. A steady stream of people quietly walked into Dublin's Mansion House, and the city halls in Cork and Limerick, and signed their messages.

In the Mansion House six books were opened, and bouquets, like the one from the children, were left in the front lobby. By 5 p.m. yesterday 4,500 people had signed and they were continuing to arrive, men, women and children, some of whom were so young their hands had to be guided to write their names.

Many messages spoke of prayers for peace in Ireland; others reflected hopes and expressed feelings: "I am deeply saddened"; "I hope this is the end"; "God rest them all and our deepest sympathy to all their family and friends"; "They do not speak or act for me"; "May these precious lives be the last". Some were lengthier. "How dare they do such a deplorable act of barbarism and claim to be representative of Irish nationalism?"

Others were simple with just one word: "Tragic"; "Unspeakable';' and "Sorry".

In the front lobby, where at one side stood three plants of the white peace lily, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Joe Doyle, was the first to sign. "To the people of Omagh with my deepest sympathy", he wrote.

Others like the Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrews, and the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Walsh, signed only their name and office.

The Mansion House will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day this week. The President, Mrs McAleese, will sign at 9 a.m today.

A book has also been opened in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, and prayers for peace will be said daily at noon. In Cork a spokesman at the City Hall said hundreds of people had signed the books by early evening; in Limerick, it was the same story.

In Derry, a book of condolences will be opened in the Guildhall at noon today by the Mayor, Alderman Joe Miller.

Fermanagh District Council yesterday convened an emergency meeting to pass a motion expressing sympathy and condemning the bombing.

The Dublin Council of Trade Unions is organising a vigil outside the GPO on Thursday to show sympathy and support for those who suffered, and is asking people to stop for 15 minutes at 6 p.m.

On Sunday a memorial service will be held at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin at 3.15 p.m. The Catholic Press Office said there was likely to be an interdenominational service but there were no details yet.

Meanwhile, many organisations continued to send messages to the bereaved and injured. The Meath Peace Group called for a day of national mourning so that people could collectively demonstrate their grief.

The deputy leader of Fine Gael, Mrs Nora Owen, called on the Government to declare a national day of mourning as a mark of respect. A Government spokeswoman said that they had only heard a rumour about a day of national mourning. "There is nothing official as yet," she said.

SIPTU extended sympathy on behalf of its members, as did the TUI which condemned "this vile atrocity". The president of the Community Games, Mr George O'Toole, abhorred the high number of dead, maimed and traumatised children resulting from the bombing.