Deaths in Tunisia: Expressions of Sympathy

Before proceeding to Leaders' Questions, I understand the Taoiseach has a proposal to put to the House regarding expressions of sympathy.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I express my sadness and horror at the deaths of Lorna Carty and Martina and Laurence Hayes - go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire orthu. I know I speak for the House and the country when I say our hearts go out to all those who loved them in their lives and mourn them so deeply in death. Nothing we say or do can make up for their loss but to Declan, Simon and Hazel Carty and Sinéad Hayes and the extended Carty and Hayes families we offer what is at this very difficult time our solidarity, thoughts and prayers.

I send the condolences of the Irish people to the families in the United Kingdom and across the world who lost loved ones. Equally, we stand with the people of Tunisia who feel shocked and betrayed. This attack was an act of hatred. It was a rejection of the values of respect, equality and freedom which we hold so dear. It was also an act of terror which aimed to undermine Tunisia, damage its tourism industry, spread hardship to the Tunisian people, promote extremism and destroy Tunisia’s progress towards democracy and pluralism. The Tunisian people have shown care for the dead, the injured and bereaved. It is a testament to our shared humanity, compassion and desire to live in peace and we support their efforts to achieve democracy, security and prosperity.

This morning I spoke to the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, about the murders of our own people, the British citizens and others from around the world. We will all work together to do what we can to protect the freedom and security we hold so dear. He has indicated that he has 50 people on the ground in Sousse and that they are quite willing to work in any way they can with our ambassador and personnel from Ireland who are in Tunisia.

Through the European Union, we will work with Tunisia to make sure it remains a popular, secure and peaceful holiday destination. We will also work with our partners to end the threat of ISIS, with its savagery and hatred. I assured the Prime Minister that in respect of interception of communications, we will co-operate where we can within the law.

Following Leaders' expressions of sympathy, I ask that the House join me in a minute's silence in memory of those killed.

It is with great sadness that for the second time in a matter of weeks we are assembling in the Dáil to make statements on another tragedy overseas. As Tánaiste and on behalf of the Labour Party, I want to extend my deepest sympathy to the families of Laurence and Martina Hayes and Lorna Carty. It is appropriate that we should mark their deaths by flying the flag at half mast over Leinster House and Government Buildings and with the opening of books of condolence in their local communities. As with the families who lost their sons and daughters in Berkeley two weeks ago, I do not think there are words to describe the pain of the families. Our thoughts must also be with the families of all the other victims of this senseless act. In particular, I extend our deepest condolences to the British Government and people. They have suffered an immense loss with the murder of 30 British holidaymakers and the impact on that country will be profound.

As someone who was privileged to visit Tunisia on holiday more than a decade ago, I have a fond memory of a beautiful country and lovely people. Thousands of Irish people travel to Tunisia and elsewhere in North Africa every year. In doing so, they support local jobs and communities and help local people to earn a living through a thriving tourism industry. In turn, visitors are there to relax, enjoy the weather and surroundings and take in some of the ancient history and sights of the area.

Unfortunately, horror visited the beaches of Tunisia last Friday. We await the full details of the attack, but it is clear that it is a further senseless act of terrorism. No cause, no ideology and no purpose is served by such random killing and murder. I assure the families that the Government, through our embassy and consular staff, is doing as much as possible to return the bodies of the victims. I also echo the advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs for Irish people currently in Tunisia, or those planning to visit, to be vigilant. As an immediate priority, they should make contact with the consular service of the Department for the latest advice.

Ar mo shon féin agus ar son mo pháirtí, ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le muintir Carty agus le muintir Hayes agus lena gcairde go léir faoin dúnmharú uafásach a tharla i Tunisia laethanta ó shin. Is olc an scéal é. Dúnmharú uafásach ar fad a bhí ann. Déanaim comhbhrón le gach éinne atá ag fulaingt anois.

I join the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste by expressing my sincere sympathy and that of the Fianna Fáil family to the families of Lorna Carty from Meath and Larry and Martina Hayes from Athlone, who lost their lives last Friday. Their families and friends are devastated at this sudden and shocking loss. What happened on the beach in Tunisia was a massacre, an appalling murder by fundamentalists who target people at will. It is an attack on civilisation as we know it and is serious for many reasons. People have been attacked and murdered in a mindless way on an ongoing basis and the attack in Tunisia represents a further escalation of that type of wanton attack. It was an appalling atrocity and 39 people's lives were ruthlessly and recklessly taken as they lay on a beach.

We know that Lorna Carty went on holidays to Tunisia with her husband Declan who was recovering from a recent bypass. They were no doubt both relieved that the surgery had gone well and they left their farm to relax on a sun-filled holiday. Their son Simon was minding the farm and their daughter Hazel was away on holidays, after finishing exams. It is horrific to think of the suddenness and appalling, shocking circumstances of how Lorna was barbarically and ruthlessly murdered and taken from her beloved family. She was a nurse who spent her lifetime looking after others in her community. Not far from Lorna on the beach were Larry and Martina Hayes. They were also enjoying their holiday and were brutally murdered in broad daylight as they were sunbathing. They were a popular, well liked and well known couple from Athlone and their only daughter Sinéad is now left without her beloved parents. It is too shocking to comprehend.

We also sympathise with all of those who died and their families. Our near neighbours in Britain suffered the biggest loss of life since the 7/7 bomb attacks in London ten years ago. We sympathise with all of the British families who have also lost their loved ones.

It is important that we reflect on the nature of these attacks on our citizens. Europe and the civilised world need to act cohesively and urgently to stop the corrosive malignancy that extremist groups like ISIS bring when they infiltrate communities and endeavour to persuade young men and women to murder with such an absence of any feeling for their fellow human beings.

I thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Cooney who moved to Tunisia from Madrid to be with the families and thank the Department for the consular assistance it is providing. It is crucial the families get all the support they can get in shocking circumstances such as this and I have no doubt that they will. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha go léir agus déanaim comhbhrón lena muintire.

Irish people have been deeply shocked and saddened by the massacre on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia, which has resulted in the deaths of 39 people, including three Irish citizens. I wish to extend my sympathies and those of Sinn Féin to the family and friends of Lorna Carty, from Robinstown, County Meath, especially to Lorna's husband Declan, their daughter Hazel and son Simon and to the family and friends of Larry and Martina Hayes from Athlone, and especially their daughter Sinéad.

These families have been shattered and ruptured by this atrocity, which came out of the blue as people relaxed and enjoyed themselves on holidays. I also wish to use this occasion to condemn unequivocally in the most forthright way the terrorism of the group which has claimed responsibility for this horrific, random and indiscriminate attack against innocent holidaymakers.

I am very impressed by how the Department of Foreign Affairs, in particular our ambassador, David Cooney, dealt with this dreadful matter. Today, we stand with all the victims of the massacre in Sousse, from whatever part of the world they come, and also with the people of Tunisia at this time of sadness and fear in their country.

Is drochscéal millteanach é seo agus ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le hachan duine a bhfuil baint acu leis an tragóid seo. Níl leithscéal ar bith ann don chineál foréigin seo. Cáinim go láidir an t-ionsaí agus guím biseach ar na daoine a bhí gortaithe.

On behalf of the Technical Group and Independent Deputies, I offer my deepest sympathy to the families of all of those massacred on the beaches of Tunisia. Last week in the Dáil, we all mourned our young students in Berkeley and now today we must pay our respects to more Irish families whose members died abroad. However, this time it was not an accident. This time it was a deliberate massacre of happy families on the lovely beaches of Tunisia.

We heard first of the death of Lorna Carty and then of those of Larry and Martina Hayes. Our sincerest and deepest sympathies go to all of their families. It is a horrific loss for this to happen to any family, particularly to families on holiday with their children. Our colleague, Deputy Ray Butler, knows the Carty family and I commend and thank him for the way he helped them and handled their terrible loss.

We all know those families hearts are broken and they will never get over the horrific nightmare, so it is important that they get all of the help and support they need. They deserve our total support.

Racism and sectarianism should always be challenged in any society or in any country. It is not civilised. Let us not forget that there are many people in other parts of the world who also agree with what is being said here today. The slaughter of the innocents should never be an option. I offer my deepest sympathy to all of the victims. All Members of the Oireachtas are with them today and are thinking of them.

On behalf of the other groups in the House, I also want to extend my sympathy and that of my colleagues to the family of Larry and Martina Hayes, to Lorna Carty, Joel Richards and his uncle and grandfather and the British citizens who were also killed. All of us were numb when we heard the reports coming through of the tragedy in Tunisia on Friday. They were people who went on their holidays, who were planning to come home with stories of fun, stories of new friends they had met on holidays and perhaps plans to meet them again 12 months later in Tunisia. Instead of that, we had stories of horror and we now await the return of their mortal remains to this country. The Hayes and Kelly families are well known and well respected in Athlone and south Roscommon. We have seen the tragic atrocities that have taken place involving ISIS in other parts of Europe and throughout the world but we would never have expected that it would come to our own local communities. I reiterate and reverberate the sympathy that has been expressed here today to Sinead Hayes and the relatives of the other families that have had their lives torn apart. I acknowledge the assistance of ambassador Cooney, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charles Flanagan, and his officials in helping the families through this very difficult time. I hope we can all agree to work here in this House and in other parliaments across Europe to ensure we can take the necessary steps to try to limit and, hopefully, eradicate this particular terrorist organisation that has sadly come to this country and to our communities.

Members rose.