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Mairtin O Muilleoir received 'running commentary' of Paris attacks from daughter yards from massacre

MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir
MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir

By Noel McAdam

The daughter of an MLA was only a few hundred yards away from the first massacre scene in the Paris atrocity, it has emerged.

Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir told how he had a "running commentary" from his 27-year-old daughter as the horrific events of last Friday night in the French capital unfolded.

He said Caoimhe Ni Mhuilleoir was given shelter in a restaurant and had described the atmosphere in the city as frightened but resolute.

"I had a running commentary because my daughter was down the street from Le Petit Cambodge, which was the first restaurant that was attacked," the south Belfast MLA said in the Assembly.

"I thank those who gave her and her group shelter that night close to the restaurant. In the hours since then, she has told me about the atmosphere in Paris; about how frightened people are, but also how resolute they are.

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

"That is the horror that brings us here today in solidarity with Paris."

The DUP's David McIlveen told how the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 of the victims died, is similar to the Ulster Hall in Belfast.

He said: "Last June I had the opportunity to go to a concert in the Bataclan, and it was a place of happiness and celebration. It was a place where people of all different creeds, colours and races gathered together to enjoy an event," he said.

"It is comparable in size and layout to the Ulster Hall in Belfast and has limited points of exit."

The personal accounts came as First Minister Peter Robinson led an act of solidarity with the people of France after MLAs joined in the European-wide minute's silence an hour earlier in the Great Hall at Parliament Buildings.

The DUP leader said: "Those of my vintage will vividly remember from our country's dark past all the emotions felt last Friday by the population of Paris; the desolation, the anxiety for friends and relatives who were in the area of the attacks, the grieving for victims and the apprehension for the future.

"They will know for sure that life will never be the same."

The terrorist outrage which lead to 129 deaths was raised by Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt, who said: "We must also remember who the enemy are. We must not paint everybody with the same brush.

"No member of this Assembly should be held responsible if a high school in the United States is shot up by a white Christian just because we share the same colour of skin and the same religious affiliation."

New SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "As a people and as an island, we acutely understand the suffering of the people of France and Lebanon. We know what it is like to face the threat of terror and violence, and to face down those who seek to murder and maim their way to political goals.

"Today, we stand in solidarity with the founding principles of the French republic."

Alliance leader David Ford said: "It is one of the ironies of this weekend that, in 1940, and, indeed, again in 1944, Paris was declared an open city, so that not only the architecture but the people were left undisturbed in the opening and closing phases of the Second World War."

Meanwhile, the BBC's Question Time programme chaired by David Dimbleby, which had been due to be broadcast from Belfast this Thursday, has switched back to London as a result of the attacks.

Belfast Telegraph


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