herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Tunisian massacre: Bodies of attack victims return home today

Gun victims: Larry and Martina Hayes from Athlone
Gun victims: Larry and Martina Hayes from Athlone
Lorna Carty
Lorna Carty

The bodies of the three Irish citizens killed in the Tunisian terror attack are due to arrive back in Ireland today.

Mother-of-two Lorna Carty from Robinstown, Co Meath, and Athlone couple Larry and Martina Hayes, were callously shot dead by an Islamic State gunman in Friday's carnage.

Ireland's ambassador to Tunisia, David Cooney, has confirmed "considerable progress" in the repatriation of the remains has been made since yesterday.

He added that he is "very hopeful" that once relevant paperwork is finalised, travel arrangements can go ahead.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also confirmed the formal identification process has now been completed by the Tunisian authorities.

Mr Cooney is based in Madrid, but travelled to Tunisia on Friday to assist with the arrangements.

"There is a lot of paperwork you have to go through," he said.

He said his office has been working closely with travel insurers, who are responsible for repatriation.

READ MORE: Tunisian massacre: Body of mum Lorna set to come home as family of tragic couple wait in hope

Meanwhile, a minute's silence was observed in the Dail yesterday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he had spoken with British Prime Minister David Cameron about a united approach in confronting Islamist extremism.

"We will be working together to do all we can to protect the freedom and security we hold dear," he said. "Through the EU, we will work with Tunisia to make sure that it remains a popular, secure, and peaceful holiday destination.

"We will also work with our partners to end the threat of Isis [also known as Islamic State] with its savagery and hate. Equally, we stand with the people of Tunisia who feel shocked and betrayed," said Mr Kenny. "This attack was an act of hatred. It was a rejection of the values of respect, equality and freedom which we hold so dear."

READ MORE: Tunisia Massacre: Dublin mum saw woman screaming after her husband shot

Hundreds turned out to sign a book of condolence opened yesterday in Athlone, Co Westmeath, for Laurence and Martina Hayes. They are survived by their only daughter, Sinead, and extended family.

READ MORE: Beach killer linked to gunmen in attack on museum

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Hayes's brother, Michael, said the family have not yet decided where the funeral will take place.

"Everything is still up in the air, and matters like that won't be decided until the bodies are back home. We're taking it one step at a time. Their daughter Sinead will make those decisions."

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