Tunisia jpg

Three Irish dead in Tunisia slaughter

Tunisia jpg

Tunisia jpg

Martina and Larry Hayes. Family photo.

By Irish Echo Staff

Ireland this week is again reeling in shock after the sudden and tragic deaths of citizens overseas.

This time, however, it was not accidental death, as in the case of the California balcony collapse tragedy, but rather as a result of cold-blooded terrorism that left three Irish among the dead in the ISIS-inspired Tunisia beach massacre.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Martina Hayes, a mother of one and her husband Larry, from Athlone, County Westmeath, along with mother of two, Lorna Carty, were among the 38 killed in the weekend attack.

Billy Kelly, brother of Martina Hayes, told the Pat Kenny radio show that the family were devastated by the loss.

“These people, they shot my sister and her husband in cold blood,” a distraught Mr. Kelly said.

“Larry was an inspector with Bus Éireann, and my sister Martina was a housewife, a very proud housewife, and they were just a loving family who were finishing out their holiday when they were gunned down,” Mr. Kelly said.

The couple had been married for more than 30 years.

In the grim aftermath of the slaughter, after which the gunman was killed by Tunisian security forces, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, issued a statement in which he said the process of full and formal identification of victims was continuing in Tunis and would take a period of time before it was completed.

Irish diplomats in Tunisia were working closely with the Tunisian authorities, he said.

Said Mr. Flanagan in his statement: “Contact has been made with family members of those citizens for whom there is grave concern. The embassy team is also continuing to provide all possible consular support to the bereaved family of the Irish citizen who had been confirmed yesterday as being among the deceased.

“This is a tragic and difficult time for the families and loved ones of those concerned. I appeal for their privacy to be respected and for sensitivity to be observed in the reporting of this tragic event.

“As of now, the Irish Embassy team is not aware of any other cases of potential concern in relation to Irish citizens. We will continue to actively monitor the situation pending full identification of all those who have died and who have been injured.

“My department’s travel advice for Tunisia, which was changed yesterday in the light of the attack, is to exercise extreme caution. While the Tunisian authorities have declared this incident to be over, we would urge Irish citizens in Tunisia to remain vigilant and to follow any instructions given by the police, tour operator, and hotel staff.

“I have condemned in the strongest terms these terrorist attacks,” said Mr. Flanagan. who also condemned the weekend attacks in France and Kuwait.

“I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the families of all the deceased.

“The Ambassador of Ireland accredited to Tunisia, David Cooney, also met EU counterparts in Tunis today to review the situation on the ground. The embassy team will keep me and the government updated through the days ahead.”