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First Ministers unite to denounce 'vicious' attack intended to stir division

By David Young, PA

Published 16/07/2016

Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster have condemned the "vicious attack" in Nice and extended their sympathies to the victims and people of France.

The First and Deputy First Minister said the "futile" act would strengthen democracy.

In a joint statement, Democratic Unionist Party leader Mrs Foster and Sinn Fein's Mr McGuinness added: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones or have been hurt in this vicious attack.

"Many of our football supporters enjoyed attending the European Championships in France in recent weeks, and the scenes of devastation and pain this morning are in stark contrast to the carnival atmosphere and warmth people from across Europe enjoyed.

"The people who carried out this attack want to create fear and division.

"Their actions have resulted in the loss of many lives of people of different nationalities.

"Their acts are futile and will serve only to strengthen our resolve and determination that democratic means are the only way forward.

"We offer our deepest sympathies and our support to President Hollande and to all the people of France."

Alliance party deputy leader Naomi Long said: "My thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with the people of Nice, and the loved ones of the victims.

"Many local people will have experienced the beauty of Nice recently, as Northern Ireland played their first game at the European Championship there. The people of Nice showed the supporters the very best hospitality, and we stand with them in solidarity after this horror."

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Hilary McClintock also spoke out to condemn the attack.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have been bereaved and all those who have been injured," he said.

"I'm aware there are many people from our own city and district who are holidaying in the area at this time, and I sincerely hope that all the local families will soon have reassurance from their loved ones as to their safety.

"All of us in Northern Ireland are aware of the devastation of terrorism and the impact it has on communities. I utterly condemn this act of violence, which has resulted in such carnage."

Belfast City Council has announced that a book of condolences for the Nice victims will be opened for the public to sign in City Hall on Monday.

The building was also illuminated in the colours of the French flag last night.

Thousands of Northern Ireland football fans stayed in Nice last month during the European Championship football tournament.

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