Statement on Nice Attack - An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D.

Statement by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. in Dail Eireann on Tuesday 19th July following Nice attack

We have been here before. After the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket murders in January last year. After the November slaughter in Paris and the Brussels bomb attacks. And now we mourn the death of eighty-four people, and the serious injuries suffered by many more, after the latest in this appalling litany of outrage.

Each of these attacks has been the same in its dreadful consequences, but each has had its own distinctively horrific features. People have been killed for who they were – journalists or Jews. People have been killed as they enjoyed an autumn Friday evening out. As they travelled to work or through an international airport. And now just after they had watched spectacular fireworks by the Mediterranean at the end of France’s national day.

In each case, they have been killed as they enjoyed - and because they enjoyed - the freedoms offered by our western civilisation.

The freedom of expression and the freedom of religion. The freedom to have a drink, to listen to music, for men and women, gay and straight, to be together on a night out. The freedom to travel and to work. The freedom to come together to celebrate the eternal values of France – liberty, equality and fraternity.

Those who were murdered on Thursday night were French and foreign, young and old, male and female. Families were wiped out or shattered for ever. The innocent faces of the youngest victims are deeply poignant, but so too is the face of the 73-year-old grandmother who was the first person to be killed. And in a bitter irony she was only one of many Muslims to be killed by someone purporting to act in the name of Islam.

We do not know if the killer acted alone or as part of a conspiracy, even though his attack was claimed by ISIS. His methods were cruder than those used in previous attacks. It does seem clear that he was a deeply disturbed and unstable person – at first glance, similar to those responsible for so many gun attacks in the USA, most recently in Orlando.

Ireland stands by France. France is a great nation, the birthplace of republicanism and of universal human rights.
These values are more precious than ever in our turbulent and dangerous world and must be protected. I look forward very much to greeting President Hollande in Dublin on Thursday, as will President Higgins, and to conveying to him in person the deep sympathy and outrage felt by the people of Ireland.

We must do all we can to combat evil and to protect our citizens. As the Tánaiste said yesterday, the Gardaí keep the county safe and they work based on intelligence.

Although we have no reason to believe that Ireland is in the front line, the Gardaí and the Government will continue to take whatever measures are necessary to deal with the terrorist threat. Ireland works very closely with France and other international partners, and within the EU significant progress has been made on a wide range of counter-terrorism legislation and other practical measures of co-operation – though there is also a long way to go. There is also an intensified focus on combating and rooting out the ideology of hate -an ideology totally inconsistent with true religious belief .

But it is a sad reality that no defences can guarantee absolute safety – above all against an attack so chillingly rage-filled and basic as that of Bastille Day. But we cannot allow ourselves to be cowed or beaten by terrorism.

The best response is to continue to live our lives in accordance with our society’s values. Because in the end liberty and love will triumph over repression and hate.

Published on 19/07/2016

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