In the aftermath of Nice massacre, France's core values of liberty, equality and fraternity will be needed more than ever
The scale of the loss in the Nice atrocity is almost overwhelming, with 84 people dead, including 10 children, and over 200 people injured.
The massacre has already been called the "slaughter of the innocents", due to the high death toll among young people, but in reality they were all innocent.
Men, women and children were enjoying the celebration of Bastille Day, marking the French dedication to liberty, equality and fraternity.
Tragically these innocent celebrations became the scene of callous mass murder.
How ironic it was that the sound of fireworks became confused with gunfire.
In the age of social media, with the impact seen worldwide almost instantly, the horror of the Nice massacre is brought home by some of the graphic images that have emerged.
France as a nation is in shock yet again, having suffered its third major terrorist attack within the past 18 months. The cumulative toll of all this suffering is absolutely dreadful.
The new Prime Minister Theresa May, with her vast experience in the Home Office and in other major posts, needs no reminding of the dangers of international terrorism, and the threats posed to the UK.
There is still no certainty about the motives of the Nice mass murderer, but radicalised Islam remains a major threat. Anyone who carries out such acts of violence has no justification from any major faith.
In Northern Ireland we need no reminder of terrorism, and many of our football supporters who were in France recently for Euro 2016 will have watched those awful scenes unfolding in the very same streets they walked through.
Throughout the Troubles, some normal life continued despite the extensive bombing campaign we experienced.
The freedom being celebrated so innocently in France on Thursday cannot be easily lost or given away. We must all continue to oppose terrorism, and also pray for Nice, the victims, their families and all its people.