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President Higgins in call for stand after Nice terror attack

Published 18/07/2016

Irish president Michael D Higgins says democracy must stand firm in the face of terrorism
Irish president Michael D Higgins says democracy must stand firm in the face of terrorism

President Michael D Higgins has called for people to make a stand for democracy in the face of those who abuse sacred texts.

Mr Higgins signed a book of condolences in the Mansion House in Dublin for the victims of the Nice attack and called for patience in trying to understand the motivation behind terror atrocities.

"We are in a period of time where, for a whole series of different factors, people are seizing and distorting and very often using pieces of text, often sacred texts, massively abusing these in a way that it would be absurd if it did not have such a violent outcome," he said.

"What we all have to do is take a stand for democracy, prepare for democracy."

The President noted statements made in the aftermath the Nice about the value of education and what he called the "public world".

He also said it is important to recognise the need to address great problems across Europe - including unemployment, access to education and feelings of hopelessness and alienation.

"In terms of insecurity for economic reasons, people may abuse difference, people may seek to whip up opposition to accepting diversity," the President said.

Mr Higgins described the lorry attack in Nice as an appalling, cowardly and incredible act on children and people celebrating France's national day.

With Turkey attempting to restore order after the weekend's failed coup, President Higgins said he hoped the country's leaders and security chiefs would respond with values of democracy and human rights.

"The quality of your response always defines your democracy," he said.

"The quality of response in France so far - threatened so often and so frequently recently - has been to say we will not be dislodged for our way of life, we are the home of democracy, there will be democracy to be expected in our streets."

The book at the Mansion House is open to the public on Monday and Tuesday.

Ireland's Tricolour was lowered over Government Buildings in Dublin - while across the country, flags were flown at half mast over many public buildings as a mark of respect.

Vigils were held over the weekend in Dublin, Galway and Limerick to remember those killed and injured.

President Higgins will meet French president Francois Hollande when he arrives in Ireland on Thursday for an official visit.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, a minute's silence is being held in memory of the victims of the Nice truck attack after European foreign ministers gather for meetings.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "We will remember the victims who lost their lives in this cruel event, those injured and their families and loved ones."

Mr Flanagan will also have talks for the first time with Britain's new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

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