Belfast Telegraph

France attack: I lived among brave, resilient people in Belfast. I do so again here in Paris

By Fr Aidan Troy

Again, Paris is under attack. Two policemen were shot on Thursday night about 9pm and one died. Families and a police force are broken-hearted.

A passer-by was injured. In the surrounding streets people stood in small groups trying to piece together yet another attack leading to death with uncertainty and fear in the air.

Another gunman could have been around.

Tired, small children cried as, at the end of a long day, all they wanted was to get to bed. But their accommodation in and around the Champs-Elysees was, understandably, inaccessible.

Armed police and soldiers were to be seen in the nearby Metro station and at every street corner.

This has become a familiar sight since the 2015 attacks in the city.

The first round of the presidential elections taking place tomorrow has brought an increase in police and soldiers patrolling central Paris.

Places like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the Arc de Triomphe are particularly guarded. But nothing prepares us for the brutal killing of an officer and the wounding of another in a police bus as part of security on a Thursday night.

If the purpose of the attack was to instil terror in residents and visitors, then it succeeded.

But not completely.

Early yesterday morning I saw a city rally and began a new day with courage and resolve.

Restaurants opened, shops began to sell.

I cycled through the city to a school where an Easter celebration had been planned at a nearby church.

More than 300 children of all religions and none took part in this lovely ceremony.

They were supported by many parents and brave teachers.

Police kept a watchful eye to ensure our safety.

Life is stronger than death. People, even if greatly concerned about the coming weekend's voting, will not give in to this intimidation.

I left Belfast over eight years ago having lived among brave and resilient people of different outlooks and aspirations whom I admire and will never forget.

Also, here in Paris, people will not give up living and working in as normal a way as possible.

The coming presidential election will have a bearing on the future of France.

A president who wants to involve and include all the people is more needed than ever.

No new leader can achieve much without all of us playing our part.

Father Aidan Troy served at Holy Cross Parish in north Belfast from 2001-08 and now works at St Joseph's Church in Paris

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