herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

'We should have been told not to go to Tunisia' - mum

Helen Kennedy and Ollie Mullen with Mia (9), Ryan (7) and Ava (11) in Tunisia
Helen Kennedy and Ollie Mullen with Mia (9), Ryan (7) and Ava (11) in Tunisia

A mother, who endured a tense and anxious week in Tunisia with her four children after the savage massacre of 38 people, has spoken of her relief to be finally back in Ireland.

Helen Kennedy (40), originally from Lucan, Co Dublin, said they barricaded the doors of their hotel rooms every night because of their fears for their safety.

She now says she may never go on a foreign holiday again.

The family arrived back home in Kennagh, Co Longford, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

"When our plane landed in Dublin Airport, I never heard such a loud round of applause," Helen said.

Helen said the Government should have advised Irish holidaymakers on the afternoon of Friday, June 26, not to travel to Tunisia after news broke of the Islamic fanatic gunman's bloody attack which left 38, including three Irish victims, dead.

READ MORE: Send Irish navy to get us out of Tunisia, say fearful tourists

The funerals of victims Lorna and Larry Carty and Martina Hayes from Athlone took place in recent days.

"When we were in Dublin Airport waiting to fly out to Tunisia, we had very little information on what had happened that morning in Tunisia," Helen said.

"The Government ... should have advised Irish people not to travel to Tunisia after the attack," she added.

She said her children, the eldest aged just 11, became distressed on their first night in Tunisia when the family arrived at the hotel to find large numbers of people leaving. The hotel was quite close to the massacre scene at Sousse.

Security

When they were moved to a new hotel, there was very little visible security. The family were too afraid to leave the hotel and armed guards only arrived two days before their departure, she said.

"I felt safer with soldiers stationed around the pool, but my children were a bit scared seeing all the guns," she said.

The family left Tunisia a week early. She said she will be seeking a refund from the tour operator for the second week.

"I don't want a credit note because I may not go away on a foreign holiday ever again... There isn't a hope in hell the children will want to go abroad again," she said.

"I really feel sorry for the people of Tunisia. The hotel staff did their best to hide the tourists from the gunman and even offered themselves as human shields.

"The Tunisian people are really marvellous. It's heart-breaking for them now," she added.

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