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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 20 March, 2018


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THE CITY OF Manchester woke up this morning to the news that 22 people died in an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert.

Police have confirmed that there are children among the victims and among the 59 injured.

One man has now been arrested in connection with the attack.

Police are treating the incident as an act of terror, stating that the sole attacker died at the scene. They believe he detonated a device in the public foyer area of the Manchester Arena at about 10.33pm.

Here’s what’s known so far:

  • Greater Manchester Police say 22 people are confirmed dead after the explosion at Manchester Arena shortly after the concert ended
  • The youngest identified victim so far is an 8-year-old girl
  • A further 59 people have been injured – many of these life-threatening injuries - and 12 of the 59 injured are under the age of 16.
  • Police say that it is being treated as a terrorist incident and say they believe the lone attacker died at the scene – they also believe they know his identity
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May has described the attack as ‘appalling and sickening’
  • One man has been arrested in connection with the incident – and one controlled explosion carried out in a suburb to the south of Manchester city

People in the UK are waking up to the news that the country has been hit by another terrorist attack.

The streets of Manchester are empty at the moment, bar an extremely heavy police presence.

The latest statement from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) was released about two hours ago. It said:


Victims are yet to be identified but eyewitnesses from the concert have told reporters that the concert was attended by vast numbers of children, teenagers and young people.

Ariana Grande’s fanbase is generally young women, aged in their teens to early 20s.

A woman who brought her daughter to the Arena last night told Sky News that the venue was “full of beautiful girls… and families”.

Another mother told the broadcaster that it was “full of children”. She added:

I’m just so sad about the whole thing… you never expect something like this to happen. It’s so awful for everyone involved.

“I just grabbed my daughter and ran… [it was] terrifying. I’ve never been so scared in my life. She’s very shocked, it’s not a nice experience to go through… We’ll be traumatised for a long time.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Embassy in the UK say they are monitoring the situation of Irish citizens in Manchester.

They have issued a contact number for anyone who is worried about a family member.

If you’re just getting up to the news, here’s the liveblog we ran overnight which details the events as they happened.

Manchester Arena incident Source: Peter Byrne

Here’s a quick recap of what we actually know:

  • An explosion occurred at 10.33pm at the Manchester Arena, just as a gig by Ariana Grande – a US popstar – finished
  • Police have confirmed that 19 people died in the attack; a further 59 were taken by ambulance to hospital, many with shrapnel injuries
  • The GMP are treating the incident as a terrorist attack
  • Two US officials have been reported as saying that a suicide bomber is suspected to have caused the explosion – but UK officials have not commented on the reports
  • Police have asked people to stay away from the area. There is a huge police presence across the city this morning, including helicopters flying overhead

A help centre has been set up at the Etihad Stadium, police have advised.



Political reporters in Britain have said there will be a suspension in General Election campaigning today.

Last night, Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as appalling, offering her thoughts to the victims and their loved ones.

She has called an emergency meeting of Cobra (which deals with national crises) for 9am today.

Just in: Manchester police are going to brief media again at 6.45am.

Many desperate family members have used the #MissingInManchester hashtag on Twitter to try and reunite with loved ones. People have been gathering at hotels which opened their doors to provide refuge to concert-goers who became separated from their group, or couldn’t return to their homes or transport.

#RoomForManchester has been used by people offering spare rooms, beds and other places to stay for those who attended the Arena, and have nowhere else to go.

Some pictures of Manchester at dawn…

Manchester Arena incident Source: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Manchester Arena incident Source: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Manchester Arena incident Source: PA Wire/PA Images

File Photo Charlei Flanagan is supporting Leo Varadkar in the leadership contest. End. Source: Eamonn Farrell/

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has issued a statement in the last few minutes. He said:

I am shocked and horrified by the large loss of life in Manchester last night and my thoughts and prayers are with those affected, and we stand by our nearest neighbour, the UK especially due to the strong links between our country and the city of Manchester.

The Consular Section of my Department, in conjunction with our Embassy in London is monitoring the situation and we are not at this time aware of any Irish citizens affected.

Anyone with concerns for family and friends can contact the Consular Division of my Department on 353 1 408 2000.

James Corden taped this emotional message to Manchester after his Late Late Show in the US. He paid tribute to the city of football, music and curries.

Source: The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube

“Many of you won’t have ever been to Manchester but you’ll definitely have heard of it. It’s famous all over the world for so many wonderful things… great football teams Man City, Man United; it’s famous for incredible music – Oasis and Joy Division; it was the birthplace of the Suffragettes; it was the home of the inventor of the first computer. It’s a place full of comedy and curries and character.

But when I think of Manchester, the place that I know, I think of the spirit of the people there. I’m telling you, a more tight-knit group of people you will be hard-pressed to find. Strong, proud, caring people with community at its core.

“If it was even possible, the spirit of the people of Manchester will grow even stronger this evening.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Manchester tonight, all of the staff and security at the Arena, all the emergency services, Ariana and her team and all of those families affected by tonight.

“We’ll all go to bed holding our little ones even tighter this evening.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has added his voice to those praying for the victims of last night’s attack in Manchester.

Manchester Arena incident Source: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has described the attack as “barbaric”, noting that it targeted the most vulnerable in society – young people and children.

“The great city of Manchester has been affected by terrorism before. Its spirit was not bowed; its community continued,” she added.

This time it has been a particular attack on the most vulnerable in our society. Its intention was to sow fear; its intention is to divide. But it will not succeed.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins has said that 22 people have now died in the explosion.

Police say the attacker died at the scene – they believe he detonated a device.

Police have confirmed there are children among the 22 deceased.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters that this is a “very-fast moving investigation” and, therefore, he was light on detail during his latest briefing.

However, he confirmed that the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED). He would not comment if there were materials used – such as shrapnel or nails – in the IED.

He also told the media that the man they believe detonated the device is dead at the scene. He would not comment on his nationality when asked by reporters.

Following his earlier tweet, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has issued the following statement:

The vile acts carried out in Manchester last night are a reminder of the depravity of the views held by the few. Those beliefs have no place in our society.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this atrocity. I am heartbroken for all.

The city of Manchester has exceptionally close ties with our country and I extend the solidarity of the Irish Government and all our people to those affected across the UK.

Here’s a full transcript from Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester Police at a news conference in the city just now:

“Our thoughts are with the 59 people who have been injured and their loved ones. We will continue to do all that we can.

This is a fast-moving investigation with significant resources, including visible resources, deployed.

“More than 400 officers have been deployed throughout the night.

“To recap, we were called at 10.33pm to a report of an explosion at the Manchester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. We then received 240 calls and emergency services responded quickly to the scene.

“Two emergency numbers have been set up: +44 161 856 9400 or +44 161 856 9900

We are treating this as a terrorist incident. Our attention is focused on one man who we believe carried out the attack, and our priority now is to see whether or not he acted alone or as part of a network.

“We can confirm that the attacker died at the arena. He had been carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated to carry out this atrocity.

“We cannot be more specific on details, as this is a complex, fast-moving and wide-ranging investigation.

Manchester Arena incident Source: Peter Byrne

“Victoria Station and the roads surround it will remain closed, we would ask that people consult with Transport for Greater Manchester as regards the status of public transport.

Terrorists will attempt to disrupt our lives, but this city has a long history of standing together in difficult times.

“It’s important that we all continue to remain vigilant but also go about our daily lives. We would implore the public to report any details of suspicious activity they may notice.

“As people are waking up to this atrocity, our officers and the staff of the emergency services will continue to do all they can during the difficult days ahead.

“We would ask that anyone with images and footage pertinent to the incident to upload them to

“I can confirm that some children are among the deceased.”

Parents looking for their teenage children; mothers trying to escape with their daughters and young people confused with what was happening at the conclusion of a pop concert.

The eyewitness accounts of the aftermath of last night’s events at the Manchester Arena are devastating.

Read more here. 

The 59 people who have been injured in the attack are being treated across eight hospitals in Manchester.

Overnight, the North West Ambulance Service confirmed 60 ambulances had been deployed to transport victims from the Arena.

Here’s the latest statement from Manchester police.

They have asked people to refrain from speculating on details or sharing rumoured names of attacker.

Chief constable Ian Hopkins said a “complex and wide-ranging investigation” is underway. They want to establish if the attacker was working within a wider network.

British media and families have started to report from the eight hospitals where victims are being treated.


Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin has issued a statement to express his “deepest sorrow and sympathies to the loved ones of those who lost their lives”.

To attack a group of young people in such a cowardly way is simply abhorrent to the vast majority of people in Ireland, and I know that the people of Ireland stand in solidarity with the people of Manchester.

As a parent, I find this attack exceptionally difficult to comprehend, and while details are limited at present, it’s clear that whoever orchestrated this attack cares little for basic decency and humanity.

The ties between Ireland and Manchester run deep, but we know that the people of Manchester are strong and resilient and will rise above this barbaric attack on innocence.

In the days and weeks to come, we will be praying for those who have lost their lives, and those who were injured.

Many people in Ireland this morning are talking about how much they enjoyed Ariana’s gig in Dublin last weekend – and how the crowd was full of parents and children – putting the devastation into even sharper focus.



What we know so far: 

  • 22 people died in an explosion in the public foyer area of the Manchester Arena at about 10.33pm last night, just as an Ariana Grande concert came to an end
  • Among the deceased are a number of children
  • Police have confirmed that a lone man detonated an improvised explosive device to cause the blast. He died at the scene.
  • Another 59 people were injured and are being treated at eight hospitals across the city
  • Ariana Grande was not hurt in the incident. The American singer has said she is “broken” today.

Charlie Flanagan, Foreign Affairs Minister, has said his department has no evidence of any Irish people being caught up in last night’s terror attack.

“We have been monitoring the situation through London and officials in my department… we have no evidence of any Irish people being involved. We’re keeping a close eye on the situation,” he told reporters this morning.

Police in London have dismissed a reported package as “not suspicious”.

BREAKING: US President Donald Trump has just expressed solidarity with the UK.

Of the suspected suicide bomber at last night’s Manchester Arena, he said he wouldn’t call that person a monster, he would call the bomber “a loser”.

On the wider issues of ongoing terrorism, he said he would show “no tolerance for this continuation of this bloodshed”.

“(It) must be completely obliterated… and all innocent lives must be protected.”


Trump made his comments as he met the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, on the last day of his Middle East visit.

He said:

“On behalf of the people of the United States, I would like to begin by offering my prayers to the people of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families, so many families, of the victims.

“We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom.

“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life.

“I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers because that’s what they are. Losers. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers, just remember that.

“This is what I’ve spent the last few days talking about during my trip overseas. Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed.”

Parents waiting anxiously for their children to descend the steps from Manchester Arena to Victoria Station last night, just minutes after the explosion which killed at least 22 people, and injured scores of others.

Thanks to Zach Bruce, who kindly gave us permission to reproduce his eyewitness video.

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Families have been using social media to try to reunite with their loved ones.

While there have been some hoax ‘missing’ photographs circulating, one family whose genuine plight continues to be highlighted are the Rutherfords who are desperately trying to track down their daughter and sister, Chloe Rutherford who has not been in contact since the concert last night. She and her boyfriend Liam Curry are missing.

This is Chloe’s brother Scott, making an appeal in the early hours of this morning. The picture shows Chloe and Liam.

He says that his mother and father went to the Etihad Stadium where people had been sheltering since last night’s attack but that there has been no sign so far.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick has released a statement expressing sympathy with the people of Manchester and praising the actions of first responders:

Our colleagues from Greater Manchester Police and their emergency services showed huge bravery as they ran towards the confusion and danger.

The full statement here:

image (2)

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was in sync with the thoughts of so many parents on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland when he spoke of how particularly heinous last night’s bombing was.

I think that when you consider that last night at least we know 22 people went out to enjoy themselves who will never come home.

In this country, where we’re so used to concerts, any parent who has ever brought their young son or daughter to a concert will know that this would have been a dream night out. The weeks and the days counted down to big event.

And if you like, this makes it an attack on innocence and on happiness and therefore on behalf of the people of our country, I say to all those who were unfortunately and tragically killed, injured and their families, that we as a nation hold them very closely in our hearts.

There is, of course, huge concern here about terrorism and Kenny said that he has spoken this morning to the Minister for Justice about security in Ireland. “Obviously the gardai are in touch with their counterparts across the water. We share information on a very detailed and regular basis.”

He was due to speak to British PM Theresa May this morning but that’s had to be rescheduled but he will be speaking to Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan this morning about the current security arrangements “that we monitor constantly here”. understands that there is unlikely to be a change in our terror alert status unless a particular Irish connection was identified and relayed to gardai.

The impact and scale of the atrocity is still unfolding. Just now, the Manchester police force warned that they are still working on the scene and the city centre is paralysed.

From joy to terror in a matter of minutes. Many of the pink balloons released here at the end of the Ariana Grande concert were seen shortly afterwards scattered on the floor of the arena as the venue was evacuated in the wake of the explosion that killed 22 people. Some of the balloons were visible in photographs of the scene outside, still clutched by shocked concertgoers as they stumbled out of the arena.

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Seemingly unrelated incident on a London-bound flight being reported by the Associated Press’s senior Gulf correspondent, Jon Gambrell.

The threat is “non-credible” is the statement from Virgin Atlantic, according to Gambrell but “all passengers pulled off and rescreened at Dubai airport” as a precaution.

Just a note – we are only sharing information on this liveblog that we can confirm with official sources. Please be aware of some of the hoaxes that have circulated since last night’s explosion, and try not to feed them on social media.

The people of Manchester are dealing with the immediate aftermath of the atrocity. Leaders of various religious faiths are out at the scene to show solidarity with their communities.

This is the Dean of Manchester, Rogers Govender, leading prayers at a police cordon on Deansgate near the Manchester Arena:

Manchester Arena incident Source: PA Wire/PA Images

From Buzzfeed reporter Emily Dugan:


At home, Catholic primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, sent a message of support to the Bishop of Salford, who serves the greater Manchester area.

“Such a violent and brutal attack inflicts terror and long-lasting trauma on children and families and leaves a wound that can only be healed by compassion, love and solidarity,” Archbishop Martin said in a statement.

Such an awful attack challenges us all to resolve personally to build peace, solidarity and hope everywhere. Only in this way can the hearts of those who plan and perpetrate such violent and pointless attacks be changed.

He said he would remember the victims of the attack and their families in his Masses and prayers.

Eamon Martin

BREAKING: British Prime Minister Theresa May has spoken at Downing Street calling last night’s attack on Manchester Arena as “among the worst terrorist experiences we have ever experienced” and “the worst-ever to hit the north of England”.

She outlined that police believe they know the identity of the man who exploded his improvised device, “deliberately choosing the time and place” that would cause most carnage and to young families and groups of children.

May said that she could not comprehend a mind that “sees a room packed with young people not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage”.

All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks, she said, but this one stood out for its “appalling sickening cowardice”. It was an attack on people “who should have been enjoying one of the memorable nights of their lives”.

The death toll still stands at 22, and the injured at 59, but many of these are being treated for life-threatening injuries.

May will visit Manchester today to liaise with the authorities but also to pay tribute to “the countless acts of kindness” and bravery of the people of Manchester.

theresa may

Arndale Source: Screengrab

Police have evacuated the Manchester Arndale Centre.

BBC News a reporting that it is described as an “urgent evacuation”.

Images show that the area around the Arndale Centre is being evacuated.

Images show people running from the direction of the shopping centre.

The Arndale Centre is located a short distance from the Manchester Arena where last night’s terrorist attack occurred.

Aoife Barry here with you now on the liveblog.

As of yet, it hasn’t be confirmed by police what had caused the Arndale Centre to be evacuated. Here’s where the centre is located in the city, related to Manchester Arena:

arndale2 Source: Google Maps


21 years ago, the centre was hit in an IRA bomb and was rebuilt, along with other damaged buildings.

According to AP, July McKenzie, who was shopping when the Arndale shopping centre, said:

We were just in the shop and could hear people screaming and security guards telling everybody to get out.

Some people left the scene in tears, while others waited outside the mall.

Meanwhile, Turkish officials say they “strongly condemn” the attack in Manchester and promised to work together with the United Kingdom against terror.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that Turkey “shares the pain of the state of England and the English people” in the attack that killed 22 people.

Turkey has been hit by a string of attacks blamed on the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants since 2015, killing at least 550 people

Manchester police say that they have arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester in relation to last night’s incident:

A second arrest, which took place at the Arndale Centre this morning, is not believed to be connected to the attack:

DUP leader Arlene Foster has commented on the attack last night, saying:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those murdered in this indiscriminate and barbaric terrorist attack and with those who have been injured. We all stand in solidarity with the people of Manchester and must unite in condemnation of those who brought terror to so many families as they enjoyed a concert.

“As has happened so often before, our emergency services responded swiftly and professionally without regard for their own safety to help those in need. I pay tribute to them and to those who are already working to identify anyone involved in this attack and bring them to justice.

“Whilst terrorists can bring pain and grief, the kindness and generosity displayed by the people of Manchester has already shown that they will not win.”

This interview with a Manchester taxi driver who helped out last night has been shared over 12,000 times on Twitter, testament to people’s support for each other during a time of crisis:

Queen Elizabeth has released a statement on the attack last night:

queen message Source:

The whole nation has been shocked by the death and injury in Manchester last night of so many people, adults and children, who had just been enjoying a concert.

I know I speak for everyone in expressing my deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this dreadful event and especially to the families and friends of those who have died or were injured.

I want to thank all the members of the emergency services, who have responded with such professionalism and care.

And I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded, with humanity and compassion, to this act of barbarity.


Greater Manchester Police are urging people to avoid Manchester city centre as emergency services work at the scene of last night’s attack:

Here in Ireland, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has condemned last night’s attack in Manchester.

“I condemn the attack that took place in Manchester last night in the strongest possible terms, and extend my deepest sympathies to the families of all involved. This shocking incident turned a concert which should have been a happy and joyous occasion, into one of horror, mourning and loss.

“Manchester is a city with a large Irish community, and our consular and diplomatic service is available to provide assistance. The Government has also extended its condolences and offered solidarity and support to the UK authorities.”

The Manchester Evening News says that in the wake of the attack, security has been stepped up at the Trafford Centre, another shopping centre in the city.

While there isn’t any specific threat, the centre owners said they are working closely with police and are also asking customers to let their security teams know if they see anything which causes them concern.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, will open a book of condolence for the victims of the tragedy at the concert in Manchester.

The public will be able to sign the book at The Mansion House, Dawson St on:

  • Wednesday 24 May 10.00am – 4pm
  • Thursday 25 May 10.00am – 4pm

Lord Mayor Brendan Carr said:

I was horrified to hear about the attack at a concert for young children in Manchester last night. There has always been close ties between the cities of Dublin and Manchester and I am opening this book of condolence to let the people of Dublin express their sympathies to the families of those who died or were injured and to express our solidarity with the people of Manchester at this dark hour.

A book of condolence for Manchester attack victims has been opened in Clare, at Áras Contae an Chláir, New Road, Ennis, County Clare during office hours (9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday).

Once closed, the book of condolence will be delivered to the Office of the Mayor of Greater Manchester, the Rt Hon Andy Burnham

Cork is opening a book of condolences in the foyer of County Hall this afternoon from 2.30pm. Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Séamus McGrath, will be there to add his signature.

Those who wish to contribute to a similar expression of sympathy in Dublin can do so from tomorrow at the Mansion House where Lord Mayor Brendan Carr will be opening a book of condolences.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has been giving a press conference in Edinburgh where she said that two Scottish teenagers have been declared missing in the aftermath of this “dreadful atrocity”.

Four people went to hospitals in Scotland after the attack and two have already been discharged.

The families of the two missing teenagers, meanwhile, are still looking for information.

Manchester Arena incident Nicola Sturgeon at this lunchtime's briefing. Source: PA Wire/David Cheskin

AFP reports that in the Islamic State group’s statement today which claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack, it claimed ”one of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs among the crowds,” and it threatened more attacks.

The group’s self-styled news agency Amaq separately claimed “a security squad” carried out the attack.

The outpouring of grief in Manchester is only going to intensify – an eight-year-old girl has been confirmed as one of the victims.

Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland, near Preston is among the 22 people killed at the Manchester Arena last night. She was named by Lancashire County Council, in northwest England.

She was a pupil at Tarleton Primary School and one of her teachers said she was “loved by everyone”.

Her photograph had been circulated on social media today as her family tried to locate her.

Manchester Arena incident A woman leaves a tribute outside St Ann's Church in Manchester. Source: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The Associated Press has quoted a UK ambulance official who has confirmed that of the 59 people injured in the attack, 12 of these are under the age of 16.

Police in Greater Manchester have been acting quickly on all information and have just carried out a controlled explosion in Fallowfield “as part of the investigation into last night’s horrific attack at the Manchester Arena”.

They made an arrest in Fallowfield and also in Whalley Range, which lies just southwest of Manchester city. Fallowfield is also a suburb to the south of Manchester and has a large student population.

Quotes from the medical director of the North West ambulance service, David Ratcliffe, go some way towards illustrating how devastating the bomb was – and how hard first responders had to work to save lives.

Sixty ambulances were dispatched to the scene from last night onwards with 59 patients sent to emergency departments in the area. Twelve were taken to the children’s hospital and nine taken to a nearby infirmary.

Manchester Arena incident Dr David Ratcliffe, medical director of North West Ambulance Service, and Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care partnership at Manchester Royal Infirmary Source: PA Wire

Friends and family have been paying tribute to a third victim of the attack. John Atkinson was in his 20s and had been undertaking health and social studies at Bury College.

His friends described him as a “beautiful soul”.

Police forensic investigators are combing through a property at a house in Elsmore Road in Greater Manchester, where the controlled explosion they carried out earlier today took place.

This is also believed to be close to where a 23-year-old man was arrested in relation to last night’s attack. The attack itself was carried out by a man who police believe they have identified and who died when he set off the explosion.

Manchester Arena incident Source: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Manchester Arena incident Source: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Manchester Arena incident Source: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Theresa May has arrived at the children’s hospital in Manchester to meet patients. She has been trying to allay fears that other events and summer gatherings will be vulnerable to attack, telling reporters that police will be “looking at the security of venues” and that she is making sure resources are available to allow police to do this work.

This was a horrendous attack, absolutely horrific, barbaric in its nature, but what I’m also clear about is that we will not let the terrorists win.

Our values will prevail.

Manchester is also fighting back, with these posters appearing on buildings including the Arndale Shopping Centre which was evacuated in an earlier, unconnected, alert today.

Manchester Arena incident Source: PA Wire

Pope Francis sent a telegram to add his condolences to the victims and their families:

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence.  He commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel, and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died.  Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.

While Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been reiterating his horror at the atrocity in the Dáil this afternoon, and saying that our security forces are in close contact with the UK, gardai say that an attack here is not impossible.

Read more here.


Several opposition politicians have been voicing concern about Ireland’s preparedness to cope with an attack – or prevent one.

Independent TD Michael Healy Rae sent out a statement which claims that a constituent who is due to attend a Coldplay concert in Croke Park in July “is seriously considering not going”.

He said:

I think it is now time in Ireland that we wake up to the fact we are not exempt from such acts of terror, we must ensure that where we have organised public events such as concerts, matches etc that not only we have security at these events but we have our armed Gardai at these events as well as members of our defence forces, we must move away from the days where the only check done going into a concert is that for alcohol in women’s handbags.

Our political reporter Christina Finn reports from Leinster House that Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath was in Manchester at the weekend with his sons and came back late last night.

I’d like to express my deepest sympathies to the victims of the bombing in Manchester, it’s an abominable event. It really is impossible to get your head around what happened there last night.

I was in Manchester over the weekend as it happens with my own sons, just taking them to a football game as a Holy Communion treat. I came back late last night. And turned on the TV and learned what happened.

Walking the streets of Manchester yesterday, I certainly could not have imagined the horror that was going to be visited on the city and its people.

I just want to convey our deepest sympathies, we’re all very, very shocked and deeply saddened by what has happened.

It’s Christine Bohan here, taking over from my colleague Susan Daly. If you have any thoughts you want to share, you can leave them in the comments below, mail us at or tweet me @christinebohan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will be speaking with British Prime Minister Theresa May later this evening to offer the sympathy and support of the Irish people.

Speaking in the Dáil, the Taoiseach said that these “vile acts are a reminder of the depravity of the views held by the few”.

Enda Kenny said that both he and the Tánaiste have spoken with the Garda Commissioner, and the Cabinet has been briefed on events in Manchester.

“This atrocity is made all the more appalling by its deliberate targeting of young people and families – innocent victims – as they began to make their way home from the Manchester Arena,” he said.

“With this appalling act, an enjoyable night out was utterly transformed into a nightmare which has tragically seen 22 people lose their lives and left so many others injured”.

Here’s his statement in full:


BREAKING: British authorities have identified the suspected Manchester suicide bomber as Salman Abedi, US officials have said.

We’re waiting for more information about suspected bomber, now that he has been identified.

In the meantime, Poland’s Foreign Minister has said that a number of Polish people are missing in Manchester following the attack, but has not said how many.

The ministry said a short time ago that the Polish embassy in Manchester is in “constant touch with the families of Polish citizens missing”.

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 March 2018

In one of the rare flashes of good news today, a fundraising appeal set up by the Manchester Evening News to support the families of those killed and injured in the attack has already raised more than £364,000 (€421,000).

Over 13,000 people have donated to the fund, which was set up earlier today and which is aiming to raise £500,000.

Ian Hopkins, the chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police, has tweeted that he and other colleagues from the force will be attending tonight’s vigil, which is due to start at 6pm.

Hopkins has been the public face of the police force over the course of today – he was the first officer to brief the media, shortly after 3 o’clock this morning.

There are still few details about Salman Abedi, the suspect in the bombing attack who has been identified by a US official.

Police raided a red-brick semi-detached house in Fallowfield in south Manchester earlier today and carried out a controlled explosion at the scene. From the Associated Press:

Neighbours said they had heard the bomber lived there, but most said they knew little about the inhabitants of the house, except that several people lived in it.

Neighbour Natalie Daley said she was frightened by a loud bang on Tuesday afternoon, followed by police yelling, “Get in your houses – get away from the windows”.

She said she was shaken by how close to home it was. “When it’s like two seconds from your house, when you walk past it every day, you do live in fear.”

police Source: Sky News

Manchester Police have officially named the suspected attacker behind the bombing.

In a brief statement to the media, chief constable Ian Hopkins confirmed that the suspect is 22-year-old Salman Abedi. However he said that Abedi has not yet been formally identified by the coroner, so police will not be commenting any further on him at this stage.

“The priority,” Hopkins said, “remains to establish whether he was acting alone or acting on behalf of a wider network”.

Here’s what else Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said when he spoke to the media just now.

He told reporters that the names of victims will be released “once the families are ready”. Three out of the 22 victims have been named so far.

“There has been much speculation [about] names of those who may have been killed in the media and social media,” he said.

“We accept that this is inevitable however we ask that people allow the police and coroner to release the names once the families are ready and appropriately supported.”

He also called for people in the city to stand together.

“We understand that feelings are very raw right now and people are bound to be looking for answers,” he said.

“However, now, more than ever, it is vital that our diverse communities in Greater Manchester stand together and do not tolerate hate.”

Our reporter Michelle Hennessy is at Albert Square in Manchester, where the vigil is due to start at 6pm, and says that there is a strong police presence in the area.

Crowds have been gathering over the past hour, and a large number of people are expected to turn out to remember the victims of last night’s attack.

A huge crowd has gathered for the vigil in Manchester this evening in a show of support for the victims and for the city itself.

Faith leaders from all the major religions are attending the service.

You can watch a live feed of the vigil here:

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 March 2018

A minute’s silence is being held at the vigil. The speaker asks people to “hold up” their feelings and “pledge ourselves silently to be, to build, that Manchester”.

During the minute’s silence, a number of people in the crowd are holding up signs saying “I <3 MCR”, which have appeared across Greater Manchester across today.

Manchester Arena incident Source: Joe Giddens/PA

Manchester Arena incident Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The minute’s silence ends with sustained applause from the assembled crowd.

A candle is now being lit on the stadium.

The speaker urges people to stay in Albert Square for as long as they want after the vigil ends, but calls on them to then return to their homes, their schools, their places to work and to help to rebuild Manchester.

The crowd has spontaneously burst into a chant of “Man-ches-ter! Man-ches-ter!” as the vigil ends.

Rome will turn off the lights of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and city hall to honor the victims of the Manchester bomb attack.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini tweeted that the ancient arena’s lights would be turned off at midnight tonight, just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris will do at that hour.

Italian officials said the gesture is a sign of “condolence and closeness to the victims of the tragedy, their families and the city of Manchester.”

There will be a minute’s silence before Manchester United plays Ajax in the Europa League final on Wednesday as a mark of respect for victims of the bombing in Manchester.

UEFA says “the opening ceremony will also be considerably reduced” in Stockholm after Monday’s attack.

Manchester United players observed a minute’s silence for the victims at a morning training session on Tuesday before flying to Sweden.

Manchester United Training Session - AON Training Complex Source: Martin Rickett/PA

Ajax coach Peter Bosz says the final doesn’t have this glow that it should have” because of the attack.

Bosz said: “Tomorrow evening should be a feast. But because of the events in Manchester, we are all affected.”

These PA photographs show people who were at the vigil holding “I <3 Manchester” signs.

Manchester Arena incident Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Manchester Arena incident Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Manchester Arena incident Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The Guardian reports that police have recovered CCTV footage of the bomber walking into the Manchester Arena with a bag which is believed to have contained the explosive device.

The device, according to reporter Vikram Dodd, was homemade and crude, but stable enough to be transported to the venue.

We’re going to close this liveblog now, but our coverage will continue across the site for the rest of the evening where we will be tracking all the breaking developments.

If you have any thoughts or comments, get in touch: mail or tweet us @thejournal_ie. Thanks for reading.

Manchester Arena incident Source: PA Wire/PA Images

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