Manchester Arena Bombing: Expressions of Sympathy

Before I call upon party and group leaders for expressions of sympathy on the tragic events in Manchester last evening I want to express my own deep revulsion and sadness at these events. Last night's bombing, which was in effect a barbaric attack on children, was an assault on civilization as we know it. There is no hierarchy to suffering, horror and despair, but the fact that so many young people were killed and injured in this dreadful attack made it all the more appalling. These were young people enjoying their night out, just as our own children do. All our thoughts are with the people of Manchester and the families of the dead and injured, and we extend our solidarity to our colleagues in Westminster. I have this morning communicated that solidarity to my colleague, Mr. John Bercow. I say to the Members here that tonight, we in Ireland will hold our own children even closer.

This is very distressing. On behalf of the Government and, while the President is away, all of the people of Ireland I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the people of Great Britain on the dreadful attack which took place in Manchester last night. The atrocity is made all the more appalling by its deliberate targeting of young people and families, the targeting of innocence and enjoyment, as they began to make their way home from the Manchester Arena. For those who have had the opportunity, and indeed privilege, of bringing their children to a concert like this, the excitement goes on for months beforehand. It is a huge adventure for young people and young children. We think of parents who bring their children to a concert venue and leave them outside to go in and participate in the adventure. To think that some of them last night never came back and never will come back is appalling. What was potentially a night of absolute enjoyment was transformed into a nightmare in which at least 22 people have lost their lives and so many others have been injured. These are reminders of the depravity of the views of a few. These beliefs have no place in our society.

I spoke with the Tánaiste and the Garda Commissioner early this morning about the situation. I was due to speak to the Prime Minister about other matters earlier this morning but we have rescheduled that conversation for later on this evening. Our embassy had its lines open all night in London and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Flanagan, and Ambassador Dan Mulhall have been available to offer any assistance that is appropriate. COBRA, the security briefing committee, met this morning with the Prime Minister chairing it.

Our security levels here are monitored very carefully by the Tánaiste, the Garda Commissioner and the Garda authorities. That level remains at moderate, which means an attack is possible but not likely. The situation for people around the country is that we have a very detailed level of shared information with other countries. The reason that this level has not been increased in Ireland is that we do not have any evidence of it being beyond the moderate stage. That is not the situation in Great Britain, where evidence of planned attacks exists. The Prime Minister speaks for the British Government in that respect. Last night's attack is a reminder that no one is immune from those whose hatred of our values drives such evil acts. I assure the public that all the necessary measures are being taken by our authorities here to counteract such deadly threats. The Garda authorities will continue to work very closely with our UK and EU counterparts and other countries in responding to the threat of international terrorism and violence inspired by extremists. There can never be any justification for the brutal inhumanity displayed in Manchester last night. The number of children caught up in these events makes it particularly hard to bear for all of those involved. Our thoughts and prayers are obviously with the victims and their families and all of those who are affected by this atrocity.

People in our country are heartbroken by this. The city of Manchester has such exceptionally close ties with this country for so many reasons over so many years. We support them absolutely. Listening this morning to the Mayor of Manchester, and the Mayor of Liverpool whose children were at this concert last night, gives us a sense of how a predetermined atrocity can impact in so many ways and cause such devastation for families.

I will speak to Prime Minister May later this evening in respect of any details of which we should be aware and any assistance our Government, people and agencies can offer the British people at this time.

Ar mo shon féin agus ar son Fhianna Fáil, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clanna na ndaoine a fuair bás san ionsaí sceimhle uafásach a tharla i Manchester aréir. Bhí sé dochreidte. Tá sé an-deacair ar fad dúinn go léir é seo a chreidiúint.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives and those who were injured in last night's attack in Manchester. It was a barbaric attack on innocents, on children out enjoying themselves at a wonderful concert. Young people, children and their parents were targeted in an act of inhumanity, cowardice and hatred. We pay tribute to the emergency services workers who, as always in situations like this, rushed to assist and rescue those in trouble. The Manchester police chief, Ian Hopkins, said it was the most horrific attack ever faced by Manchester police as he confirmed that children were among the deceased.

We speak today in solidarity with the people of Manchester and Great Britain. Our family ties are close and historic. We join them today in empathy, and also with resilience, to honour the common values and decency that will continue to sustain our open and democratic societies. We should never forget that those who perpetrate these acts of terror do so to change us. Their acts are designed to make us more like the perpetrators, to make us turn on ourselves and to undermine our own sense of basic, open and democratic values. As civilised societies, it is important that we never become victims to that design and intent. We must remain resilient to protect all that we hold dear in our societies. Those who have been responsible for this act cannot and must not succeed. We have to work together with other nations across Europe and with our neighbour Great Britain to make sure we can rid our society of this evil.

Go raibh maith agat a Cheann Comhairle. Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón ó chroí a dhéanamh le clanna na ndaoine a maraíodh san eachtra uafásach i Manchester aréir. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha dílse. Chuir sé déistin orm nuair a chuala mé faoin imeacht. Caithfidh achan duine againn seasamh go láidir in aghaidh an ionsaithe seo.

On behalf of Sinn Féin and on my own behalf, I extend sincerest and heartfelt sympathy and solidarity to the families and friends of those killed in the bomb attack in Manchester last night. Some 22 people, including children and young people, have been killed and dozens more injured in a harrowing attack on people going about their evening, enjoying a concert and having a big night out. As the Taoiseach said, the excitement of going to a concert, especially for young people, starts months and months in advance.

What happened is shocking and reprehensible. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this desperately sad time. I pay tribute to the emergency workers and all those who have been doing all they can to help in the aftermath of this atrocity, including local hotels, taxi drivers, and those who opened their doors to ensure people were safe last night. The one uplifting feature of atrocities like this and other tragic, terrible incidents is the instinctive way in which ordinary people respond with courage and generosity. They and the emergency services deserve praise and recognition for their actions.

On behalf of the Irish Labour Party, I wish to express our deepest sympathy to those affected by the Manchester attack, which was appalling. It is probably no accident that the attack planned for maximum carnage, targeted young women and girls mostly and occurred in the midst of a general election. It is an attack on our democratic values and, in particular, on the innocence of youth.

I wish to echo the words of the Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, who said today:

These were children, young people and their families that those responsible chose to terrorise and kill. This was an evil act.

I offer our deepest sympathies to the victims, their families and the people of Manchester. Ireland has always had strong links with Manchester. Today, more than ever, we stand alongside the community there as they mourn the needless loss of so many young lives. It is in this spirit that the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, has opened a book of condolences, as have his counterparts in many municipal authorities throughout the country.

I wish to pay tribute to the emergency workers and all the local people in Manchester who have been doing all they can to help in the aftermath of this atrocity. The strength and spirit shown by the community there is the best response to despicable acts of terror.

On behalf of Solidarity-People Before Profit, I wish to extend our great sympathies and condolences to the families, parents, sisters, brothers, relatives and friends of the 22 people who have been murdered in this callous, horrific and brutal way. I wish the very best to the other 59 people who were injured and I hope they make a full recovery. I understand that two of the young victims have been identified already: an eight year old girl, Saffie Roussos, and an 18 year old student, Georgina Callander. For their parents and families and for the families of the others whose lives have been extinguished by this brutal act, nothing will ever resolve the pain and suffering they have to endure today.

Any attack that deliberately targets children and families who are out simply having fun can be described as nothing other than barbaric and senseless and must be condemned utterly.

I also pay tribute to the people of Manchester, especially those who opened their homes last night to let in people fleeing the scene, the taxi drivers who drove people for free and those running the hotels that took people in and allowed them to stay the night. In the face of an horrific act like this, it is important to echo the sentiment of the Manchester Trades Union Council, which said that the people of Manchester - it applies equally to the people of the world - have to respond to horrific acts like this with solidarity and love. We should never allow ourselves to be caught up in the logic of hate that could carry out such an act.

It is a twisted logic that imagines the horrors visited on equally innocent people in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq, which we must also remember, can somehow justify doing similar things to innocent children and people in Manchester. We must stand against any action by state actors or terror groups that would target innocent children and people because they imagine it serves some sort of political cause - it never can.

We can understand the pain, panic and heartache on the streets of Manchester because we share so many cultural and social habits with the people of that city. It is almost a part of Ireland itself, which means we get it. It brings the trauma of what happened home. There are so many parents here in Ireland who would have dropped off their young teenage girls to the 3Arena in Dublin on Sunday to see Ariana Grande. To think that those people might not have come home is beyond shocking. It is horrific. My daughter would have been there had she not been doing her leaving certificate. However, it is no less horrific than the pain and torture felt by parents in Yemen, Syria and Iraq who have also lost children. Young lives have been ended and young lives have been traumatised for ever.

I do not agree that this is an attack on our values. It is a response to violence. Violence begets violence. In standing shoulder to shoulder with the parents and young people of Manchester, on behalf of Independents 4 Change I must state that the best thing we can do is support peace and neutrality as a way forward for the world. We want no part in what has gone on. That is the best we can do in the most horrendous of circumstances.

On behalf of our Whip, Deputy Mattie McGrath, and the Rural Independent Group, I express our deepest sympathy with the families and those who have been affected by the awful attack in Manchester last night, which left 22 innocent people dead and at least 59 others seriously injured. This was a cold, calculated attack on some of the youngest people in society. It makes me sick to my stomach to see what should have been a wonderful occasion for young people and their parents attacked by extremists in such a horrific manner. We must do more to protect our young people in our country, across Europe and all over the globe. People at the concert last night were as young as eight years of age and some of the fatalities have been identified and confirmed as being as young as eight and 18 years of age. Just hours beforehand, they were filled with joy to see their pop idol. In particular, I remember Saffie Rose, whose image I recently saw. She was eight years of age. A lovely, beautiful little girl, she could have been anyone's child or grandchild. She was from Leyland, which is near Preston. A lovely little girl who was out for a special night and now she is lost.

It is time that we in Ireland wake up to the fact that we are not exempt from such acts of terror. We must ensure that we not only have security at organised public events, such as concerts and matches, but that armed gardaí and members of the Defence Forces are also present. We must move away from the days when the only check carried out on those going to a concert was for alcohol in a handbag or bag. Members of the public have called me today and told me that they now fear going to such organised events. A constituent who is to go to the upcoming Coldplay concert at Croke Park told me shortly before I came into the Chamber that he is seriously considering not going because he is worried about his safety. It is not good enough that 82,000 of our citizens looking to enjoy an event and a night out could be subjected to such acts of terror. We must protect these people.

I call on the Government to ensure that members of our armed forces are on hand at organised public events where large numbers of people are congregated in order to deal with situations that may arise or to prevent an incident such as that which occurred last night from happening. It is my honest belief that we are currently not prepared for attacks of this nature.

It is simply not good enough. It is the responsibility of Government and the Members of the House to ensure we do everything necessary to ensure the safety and peace of mind of our citizens especially when attending such public events in mass numbers. Our thoughts, prayers and sincere sympathies are with the people affected by such an horrific event.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing us to pay our respects. It is very thoughtful, right and proper. I also thank the Taoiseach.

On behalf of the Social Democrats, I express our deep sympathy to the families of those who have lost their lives and send our well wishes to those who have been injured or impacted by this act of terror. We express our solidarity with the people of Great Britain and Manchester, in particular. The attack was on young people, all of whom would have looked forward to the event. Most would have gotten their tickets months ago. As the concert got nearer, it is easy to visualise the excitement of youngsters planning what they would wear, who they would go to the concert with and how they would get to and from the concert. What is not easy to comprehend or visualise is the mindset of those who carried out this outrage. At the same time as those youngsters were excitedly planning their big night out, evil preparation was taking place, the intent of which was to produce the greatest level of carnage to maximise the worldwide impact and create fear and division. Atrocities like this leave a deep scar on families and communities. This one is of such enormity it is difficult to process. It deserves nothing less than full condemnation for the vile act it is.

As with everyone here, our hearts go out to the families in Manchester and their shattered lives. The sense is it was an evil and calculated act. It was calculated in the way it deliberately targeted the most innocent and vulnerable to try to provoke the strongest response. Sometimes when humanity shows us its most evil, in its most hard to comprehend ways, it sees in return the best in human nature. Our hearts and minds are with the ambulance drivers who queued along the streets of Manchester last night to go to the scene. Our hearts and thoughts are with the taxi drivers who brought the other young people home. In Britain's recent history, its strongest identity in response to bombing is in the spirit of the Blitz. This attack has all the hallmarks of an ISIS attack. We met the Coptic Pope recently. It is remarkably similar to the attack in the Coptic cathedral in Egypt. The same numbers of people were killed and the same mechanism was used. There was the same targeting of young, innocent children. All we can hope for is that, in response, the British people turn away from what the bombers are looking for, which is to instil hatred and division, and instead are inspired with a sense that violence can never win. We stand for peace and we achieve it through solidarity, tolerance and democratic systems. Meanwhile, our heart bleeds for those shattered families in Manchester today.

Seasfaimid anois ar feadh nóiméid i gcuimhne orthu siúd a cailleadh agus a d'fhulaing i Manchester.

Members rose.