Outpouring of support for the victims of the horrific Paris attacks
The victims of the Paris attack were remembered at last week's meeting of the Wexford District Borough Council.
Mayor Ger Carthy extended sympathy to those affected by the atrocity adding that Wexford had strong links with France. He said many towns around the county were twinned with towns in France while the connection between Rosslare Harbour and France spanned almost 50 years.
'It brings a sense of closeness', he said 'and an increased sense of shock and horror. In the immediate aftermath I made personal contact with the French ambassador to convey our sympathies.'
Mayor Carthy said this was not a time to get political. 'This is a time for sympathy and support. This was a barbaric act of mass murder. It was a direct attack on the Western way of life and not a time for any political representative to shift blame away from the suicide bombers.'
His comments were echoed by Cllr Davy Hynes who said that it was only a few months ago that Paris had been subjected to another terrorist attack. He said the situation was exacerbated by the fact that nobody knew where the next atrocity would take place.
He paid credit to those who had organised a candlelit vigil on Wexford Quay in the days after the attack but said he felt that the borough district should also hold a ceremony of some sort adding that not everyone was on Facebook to hear about the vigil.
Cllr George Lawlor commended Mayor Carthy on his initiative on contacting the ambassador. 'This atrocity is an attack on Western civilisation. The Bataclan and the rock concert were apparently chosen because it was seen as an affront to what the terrorists saw as their way of life.'
He also extended sympathy to the people of Beirut who also lost their lives in recent days at the hands of the Islamic State. He said that while some people are pointing the finger at Syrian refugees as the terrorists 'in all probability the main perpetrators will be found to be from France itself and didn't come in (to France) as refugees. I would hate to see the finger of blame pointed in the wrong direction.'
Cllr Tony Dempsey said the attacks in Paris were 'horrific attacks on democracy' and said that with the numerous books of condolences opened around the county people would have the opportunity to express their sadness on what was 'an attack on civilisation as we know it.'
Cllr Fergie Kehoe, obviously a keen social media enthusiast, also spoke of the 120 students in Kenya who were brutally murdered 'at the weekend'. However these students were in fact murdered in April although the story only spread through Facebook in the wake of the Paris attacks, often by people demanding to know why Paris was receiving such media attention over other tragedies. Cllr Kehoe said 'it's unreal what's happening to humanity at the moment.'
He also said he felt it would be 'very fitting if a letter was sent to the Muslim community in Dublin. We all have different religions but what these people are doing is not a religious attack it is a complete attack on democracy. We should support every religion as we would normal religion.'
Director of Services Tony Larkin said it was important the council didn't inflame matters and the correct approach would be to offer sympathy. He added that one of the most positive ways the people of Wexford and the council could do this would be to extend a warm hand of welcome to any Syrian refugees that do come to Wexford in the coming months.
The focus now must be on 'compassion and solidarity' said Cllr Jim Moore. He also spoke of the many French residents living in Wexford who had also been deeply affected. Cllr Frank Staples said 'this atrocity, in particular, has brought it home how close we are to this sort of stuff. It has shaken everyone especially in the Western world. We hope we're safe over here but this has really brought it home.'