Belfast Telegraph

MLAs pay tribute to Paris victims

Politicians in Northern Ireland have expressed solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Paris terror attacks.

MLAs, who met at Stormont for the first time this year, said they had been horrified by the shootings at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, on a police officer, and at a kosher supermarket which left 17 people dead.

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan, who led the tributes, said the killings had sent shock waves through Northern Ireland's war weary society.

He said: "We in Northern Ireland are well aware of the brutal realities of terrorism yet events in France, last week, shocked I am sure even the most hardened of us.

"This trail of blood lays bare all the ingredients of what makes up terrorism in our age - fanaticism, intolerance, sectarianism and above all a complete lack of respect for human life."

The South Antrim MLA said all institutions, including organised religions, should be subject to criticism.

He added: "There is no absolute right not to be offended."

The region's Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, of the DUP, described the death toll in Paris as "horrendous".

The SDLP said the awful attacks had brought unimaginable terror and the party's leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell called for the people of Northern Ireland to "stand with" the French.

Meanwhile, Caitriona Ruane, MLA for South Down said she had "watched in horror" as the unjustifiable events unfolded in Paris.

The Sinn Fein representative said: "We extend our solidarity to the people of France at this very difficult time.

"There can be no place for anti-semitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism in our societies whether it is in Africa, Asia, Latin America or here in Ireland.

"Religion or religious beliefs are the fig leaf that will be used to rationalise the attack on these workers. No grievance or religious slight, no matter how strongly felt, can justify this attack and no cause is served by it."

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, who joined the "absolute condemnation" of the "bloodthirsty brutality", also praised the response taken against the gunmen by French security services.

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