MONAGHAN EXPRESSES SYMPATHY WITH FRANCE IN AFTERMATH OF NICE CARNAGE
President Hollande on Official Visit to Ireland
Michael Fisher NORTHERN STANDARD Thursday 21st July 2016
As County Monaghan continued to express condolences with the people of France, President François Hollande arrived in Dublin this morning on an official visit to Ireland. It’s just a week since an attack in Nice claimed by “Islamic State” killed 84 people and injured 200 others during Bastille Day celebrations. A lorry driver deliberately ploughed into the large crowd gathered on the promenade and drove for nearly 2km before being shot dead by police.
The incident came eight months after a series of IS attacks in Paris left 130 dead. On both occasions, the sympathy of Monaghan people has been passed on to the French state.
BOOKS OF CONDOLENCES
Monaghan County Council Cathaoirleach PJ O’Hanlon opened a book of condolences on Monday at the civic offices in Carrickmacross. The Council’s Chief Executive Eamonn O’Sullivan then signed. Books were also made available in Monaghan town (at the Council offices), in Ballybay, Clones and Castleblayney. Both Council representatives had attended Bastille Day celebrations in Dublin at the Ailesbury Road residence of the French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault.
Referring to the attack in Nice, Councillor O’Hanlon said it was very, very hard to comprehend and understand. But it was very important that as a nation we condemned “this horrendous terrorist attack” on what we all represent as Europeans, which is freedom of speech and democracy. We must show sincere and genuine sympathy to the people of France, he added.
BASTILLE DAY CELEBRATIONS IN DUBLIN
The Monaghan delegation at the Bastille Day celebrations included Eugene O’Gorman of the Carhaix/Carrickmacross twinning committee. The Chief Executive of Lacpatrick Co-op Gabriel D’Arcy represented business interests.
Two men with Monaghan connections had been presented in the past year with France’s main honour, the Légion d’Honneur, for their roles in the British Army in World War Two, helping to liberate France. They were the retired Church of Ireland (Clogher diocese) rector, Canon Robert Marsden from Dublin and the late Sir John (Jack) Leslie of Glaslough. Canon Marsden attended the French National Day celebrations along with Mark Leslie, nephew of Sir Jack. Irish Times columnist Frank McNally from Carrickmacross was also among the invitees.
FRENCH AMBASSADOR ON LINKS WITH IRELAND
The French Ambassador told guests that Ireland must retain its strong trade relationship with France in the wake of the UK vote to leave the European Union. He said the period ahead would be full of challenges and opportunities and also of threats.
“We have learned recently, with great sadness, that a member of the EU will intend to leave this community and this will create challenges. We are all sad because of it,” he said.
“At the same time, we need to manage this tradition in the best way possible, taking into account the interest of our people and we must also pay attention to the voices that are expressing concerns everywhere in Europe, ” he added.
Monsieur Thébault said: “I think it is very important that France and Ireland must contribute actively to the redefinition of what a sensible, pragmatic but meaningful Europe should be.” The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in a referendum three weeks ago.
The Ambassador said President Hollande’s visit to Ireland would be a significant moment. “This visit could not happen at a better moment because the president of France can pay tribute to Ireland and recognise the Irish people and our shared history”, he said.
Mr Thébault also paid tribute to the Irish soccer fans’ good behaviour while at the Euro 2016 tournament in France. “The green army which peacefully invaded France was fantastic and continued for several weeks”, he said.
VISIT BY PRESIDENT HOLLANDE
President Hollande is here to discuss the impact of Brexit on the island. He will meet President Higgins and will also hold discussions with the Taoiseach. However he will no longer be unveiling a new memorial in Glasnevin dedicated to the Irish who died while fighting in France during his visit. The memorial is a gift by the French government to Ireland. The unveiling has been postponed until a later date.
Speaking last month following the outcome of the British referendum, President Hollande described the British people’s choice to leave the European Union as painful, but one which must be respected and all the consequences fully accepted. He said: “The UK will no longer be a member of the European Union. The procedures set forth in the treaties will be implemented quickly – that is the rule and the consequence. France, for both its own sake and that of Great Britain, will continue to cooperate with this great ally, particularly on defence issues.”
He said this posed a grave test for Europe, which would now have to show solidity and strength by responding as necessary to control the economic and financial risks of the UK’s exit. “Measures are already underway and I am confident they will be effective,” the French President said. To move forward, Europe must also reassert its values of freedom, tolerance and peace, and be a sovereign power taking its own destiny in hand and defending its model. “There is a huge danger in the face of extremism and populism. It always takes less time to undo than to do, to destroy than to build. France – a founding country of Europe – will not accept that,” President Hollande asserted.
France would therefore be leading efforts to ensure Europe focused on the key issues:
- Security and defence of the European continent, to protect its borders and keep the peace amid the threats its faces;
- Investment in growth and jobs, to implement industrial policies in terms of new technologies and energy transition;
- Tax and social harmonisation to shore up European economies with rules and safeguards;
- Strengthening of the eurozone and its democratic governance.
It is President Hollande’s belief that “Europe […] must bring projects to the table rather than get bogged down in red tape. It must be understood and overseen by its citizens. Where it is expected to make decisions, these must be made swiftly, while decisions that are solely for the Member States to make must be left up to them, once and for all”.
“Europe is more than just a great market: it is a great ideal. This has too often been forgotten and it is surely this fact that has made it lose its way. Europe needs to remain a source of hope for young people, as it is their horizon. Today, history is on our doorstep,” declared François Hollande. “This is a historical turning point and we therefore need to be equal to the situation we are facing.”