Terror attack aftermath seen by councillors
A twinning delegation from Wexford which pressed ahead with plans to fly to Brussels on Friday, despite Tuesday's terrorist attacks, encountered major delays amid security checks in the country.
The attacks left at least 34 people killed and more than 300 people were wounded. At least 16 people were killed at Zaventum airport following twin bombings, followed an hour later by a bombing on the city's Metro in which numerous people were killed and wounded.
Cllr George Lawlor and Cllr Fergie Kehoe undertook the trip to Fleurus on a three-day visit aimed at furthering plans to twin Wexford with the town.
Their visit coincided with a festival in the town, which is twinned with Wexford's twin town in France, Coueron. The addition of the Belgian town as a Wexford twin would create 'a twinning triangle'.
Cllr Lawlor said: 'We are doing this as it would be unique. It would also make it easier to arrange for groups to travel between the three towns.'
He added: 'We can't allow people like these to stop the world. We travelled there in solidarity with our friends in Fleurus at a very difficult time for the people of Belgium.'
The two councillors flew into Charleroi Airport on Friday.
Cllr Lawlor described the atmosphere upon arriving as intense.
'There was a very, very heavy and intense security and police presence. Noone was allowed into the airport unless they were a passenger en route somewhere.'
They encountered three army road blocks on their way to Fleurus, meaning the ten minute journey took three hours.
During the visit they met members of the Wallonian Parliament and representatives from local sporting and music groups, discussing the benefits of twinning.
On Sunday they attended the 136-year-old Fleurus spring and summer festival, which went ahead despite terrorist attack concerns.
'There was a high security presence there. We did the trip as if successful the twinning with Fleuris would create a twinning triangle. We spoke to business people about the possibility of the respective chambers of commerce working together.'
If Wexford does twin with another European country, it should be able to draw down European funding that is currently unavailable.