Northern Ireland

Minute's silence held across NI for Paris victims

A minute's silence was marked at Stormont in honour of the victims of the Paris attacks.
Image caption A minute's silence was marked at Stormont in honour of the victims of the Paris attacks.

A minute's silence has been marked across Northern Ireland in honour of victims of the Paris attacks.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers joined the first and deputy first minister in a tribute at Stormont.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Arder Carson, marked the silence at Belfast City Hall with Honorary French Consulate, Regine McCullough.

The Europe-wide, one-minute silence, was held at 11:00 GMT on Monday.

It was also observed at military bases across Northern Ireland as a mark of respect for the dead and injured.

Image caption A minute's silence was observed at Stormont

A book of condolence was opened at Belfast City Hall on Monday, while another was opened at the Guildhall in Londonderry on Saturday.

Sinn Féin assembly member Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said he had received an running commentary on Friday night from his daughter who lives in Paris.

"My daughter was down the street from the Petit Cambodge, the first restaurant attacked," he said.

"I want to thank those who gave her group shelter that night close to the restaurant.

"In the hours since that, she has been able to tell me about the atmosphere in Paris, how frightened people are, but also how resolute they are.

"And today I know that in her boyfriend's circle, one young man was killed in the Bataclan concert hall and in her place of work one friend there has a close friend still missing."

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said security at Northern Ireland's air and sea ports had been "hardened up" following the attacks in Paris.

'Evil bloodbath'

First Minister Peter Robinson described the attacks as "an evil bloodbath".

"This was an attack upon innocent, defenceless, harmless citizens," he said.

Passengers flying into Belfast International Airport from Paris have described the fear in the city during Friday night's attacks.

Image caption A man signs a book of condolence at the Guildhall in Londonderry

The president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, signed a book of condolences at at the French Embassy in Dublin after attending the tribute.

A crowd, which was gathered outside the embassy on Merrion Square, sang the French national anthem before breaking out in applause after the minutes silence.

Image caption The president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins signed a book of condolences at at the French Embassy in Dublin.

One hundred and twenty-nine people were killed in a series of shootings and bombings in the French capital.

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Media captionPassengers flying into Belfast International Airport from Paris describe the fear in the city during Friday night's attacks

One Northern Ireland man who had travelled over for Ulster's Champion's Cup rugby game against Oyonnax - which was postponed - said it had been "quite scary".

"The Thursday night before we were sitting round the same area in a bar, so it's very, very easy thing to do," he said on Sunday night.

"It can happen to anybody."

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Another man said he had been on a shuttle bus outside the Stade de France "probably between the second and the third bomb".

"We had no idea that that was all kind of kicking off," he said.

A woman said there was "a sort of eeriness" in the city after the attacks, and that she and her husband had been told to stay indoors for at least 12 hours.

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Image caption People in Paris have held vigils and left tributes to victims at the scenes of the attacks

"Our taxi driver, she cried the whole way round. She passed the three restaurants that had been hit. I think when she saw the blood it frightened her and then she saw the bullet holes," the woman said.

Meanwhile, Paris resident Tom McGeehan, who is originally from County Down, said he would not be leaving the city.

One of Mr McGeehan's friends was wounded on Friday night: "I tried my best to stay with the close friends and the people who were affected to try and keep a bit of optimism.

"I think especially coming from a background of Belfast that we have unfortunately kind of grown accustomed to dealing with extreme violence.

"This isn't enough to make me leave it's just enough to make me really cherish the people that I know here."

Image caption A crowd gathered outside Ireland's French embassy on Merrion Square to mark the minute's silence.

'How do you explain it to kids?'

Coleraine man John Lynn travelled to Disneyland Paris on Friday night with his wife and children, aged five and two. However, the park has been closed since the attacks.

"How do you explain it to kids? I just basically said there was a pile of bad guys and something had happened in Paris and that's why Disneyland was closed," he said.

"Looking at the hotel car park, there's very few cars about it - I've noticed that there's a lot of British people and Irish people left that are stuck here till their flights go home. But there's probably very few other French people coming here - any that were here have checked out, so it has got a lot quieter.

"Yesterday there wasn't a lot to do and we thought we'd maybe go into Paris, but they [the hotel staff] basically said no, don't, everything is closed.

"At the railway station that comes into the Disney village there were three armed soldiers there on Saturday morning, but it was pretty low-key, it's not like there were soldiers walking about Disneyland."

Solidarity

Former Belfast priest Fr Aidan Troy, who now lives in Paris, said people in the city were offering to do what they could in the wake of the attacks.

Image caption Belfast City Hall was lit in the colours of the French national flag on Saturday

He said: "I saw the lines of blood donors who are going to the hospitals and saying: 'You are short of blood, can we give blood?'

"Tourists are going and doing it.

"There has been a tremendous outpouring, almost like saying: 'Evil will not win, good is going to come out on top.'"

Belfast City Hall and other local government buildings in Northern Ireland were lit in the colours of the French national flag on Saturday evening in an act of "solidarity" with the French people.

Some Belfast-based French nationals said they were "scared" to go back to Paris after the terror attacks.

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