Taoiseach says Manchester explosion was ‘an attack on innocence and happiness’

President Higgins has condemned ‘this cowardly attack on innocent citizens’

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said that Ireland stands by 'our nearest neighbour' following the terrorist attack in Manchester which has killed at least 22 people with more than 50 people injured. Video: Mary Minihan

 

Sarah Burns Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Manchester explosion was “an attack on innocence and on happiness”.

Mr Kenny said his sympathies were with the families involved and voiced his support for the British government adding Irish ties with Manchester are “so strong”.

“When you consider last night at least, we know, 22 people went out to enjoy themselves who will never come home,” Mr Kenny told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Tuesday.

“In this country where we’re so used to concerts, any parent who has ever brought their young son or daughter to a concert will know that this would have been a dream night out, the weeks and the days counting down to the big event.

“This was an attack on innocence and on happiness and therefore on behalf of the people of our country, I say to all those who were unfortunately and tragically killed, injured and their families, that we as a nation hold them very closely in our hearts.”

In a separate statement, the Taoiseach said the “vile acts” carried out in Manchester last night are a reminder of the “depravity of the views held by the few”. “Those beliefs have no place in our society. The city of Manchester has exceptionally close ties with our country, and I extend the solidarity of the Irish Government and all our people to those affected across the UK.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said Ireland stands by “our nearest neighbour” following the terrorist attack which has killed at least 22 people with 60 people injured. “I am shocked and horrified by the large loss of life in Manchester last night and my thoughts and prayers are with those affected, and we stand by our nearest neighbour, the UK, especially due to the strong links between our country and the city of Manchester,” Minister Flanagan said.

“The Consular Section of my Department, in conjunction with our Embassy in London is monitoring the situation and we are not at this time aware of any Irish citizens affected.” Tanaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the “savage and shocking attack” was aimed at people “simply going about their lives , out for a night’s entertainment”. “While there has been no change to the security assessment here and no specific information about a threat to us, last night’s attack is a reminder that no-one can be considered immune from those whose hatred of our values drive such evil acts,” Ms Fitzgerald said. The Tanaiste added there is “close liaison” between An Garda Siochana and their UK counterparts in relation to the attack last night. Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said the Irish Government would “try and reach out and provide some comfort” in the aftermath of the tragedy. He said it was a “very sad day”, adding that there are so many Irish people living in the UK city. Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar also offered their condolences on their way into Cabinet this morning.

President Michael D Higgins issued a statement this morning from Áras an Uachtaráin, offering his sympathy and that of the Irish people to the families of those who have lost their lives and those injured in the attack.

“This cowardly attack on innocent citizens will have appalled all those who care for democracy, freedom and the right to live and enjoy the public space.

“Manchester has been home to the Irish and so many nationalities for centuries and at this terrible time I want to send the people of this great and welcoming city not only our sympathy but our solidarity.

“Our thoughts in Ireland are with all of the people of Manchester and our neighbours throughout the United Kingdom at this time.”

The explosion happened just after 10.30pm on Monday night, after a concert by the US singer Ariana Grande. There are currently no reports that any Irish were injured in the explosion. Political parties in Northern Ireland have suspended their election campaigns today as a mark of respect to the victims of the Manchester attack.

Sinn Fein’s Northern leader Michelle O’Neill described the attack as “devastating” and sent her sympathy to “those who lost their lives, the injured and all their families”.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster tweeted: “I have asked all DUP candidates to suspend their campaigning today.

“22 dead including children. Horrific injuries. Terrorism must never win.”

Anyone with concerns for Irish citizens in Manchester can contact the Consular Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs on 353 1 408 2000 or the embassy in London on +44 207 235 2171.