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Tuesday 30 May 2023 Dublin: 17°C
# national mourning
A minute's silence in Brussels was ended with defiant applause
Irish leaders have also expressed solidarity.

25 Prrsident Belgium Embassey 90412820 Michael D Higgins speaks to the media at the Belgian Embassy this morning,

Updated: 3:45 pm

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny are among those to have signed a book of condolences at the Belgian Embassy in Dublin.

The Taoiseach also posted a video message online in which he said in French, Irish and English that the people of Ireland stood with the people of Belgium.

The embassy on Elgin Road in Ballsbridge is open today and tomorrow between 12pm and 3pm should anyone wish to sign the book. The embassy has also created an online book of condolences should any wish to contribute there.

Flags at Government Buildings are also being flown at half mast.

3709 Taoiseach Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The Belgian capital of Brussels, home to the European Union headquarters, was left reeling yesterday after some 35 people were killed in bombings at Zaventem Airport and on a metro train.

Speaking after he signed book, President Higgins said that fundamentalist belief systems are not compatible with peace

“Civilians have shown in their resilience that their values are more important and that their values are what will endure from generation to generation,” he said.

We reaffirm our commitment to wanting to live together in peace and being able to disagree in peace. And none of this is associated with any fundamental belief system as terrible as virile and as cowardly as it is.

A minute’s silence was held this morning in Brussels and elsewhere this morning to remember the victims.

In Brussels’ Place de la Bourse the hush was then ended by sustained applause.

It follows last night’s vigil in the city’s historic city square. 

Wrapped in the national flag and carrying candles and flowers, Belgians flocked in their hundreds to the centre of the city to grieve as the country held three days of national mourning.

A lone musician played a cello as a mourner waved a banner reading “United against hate” and another message scrawled on the ground said: “Christians + Muslims + Jews = humanity”.

Brussels Airport explosions Gareth Fuller / PA Wire Messages and tributes left by members of the public at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels Gareth Fuller / PA Wire / PA Wire

“It’s important to get together after moments like these,” said Leila Devin, 22. “It shows we’re united against terror.”

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel joined the mourners after dark fell and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also paid homage to the dead.

“Tonight I am Belgian,” he said, full of emotion.

Landmarks around the world, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, were lit up in the black, yellow and red of Belgium’s national flag in solidarity.

Thibault Camus / AP Thibault Camus / AP / AP

Germany Belgium Attacks Markus Schreiber / AP Markus Schreiber / AP / AP

Near the Place de La Bourse square in Brussels, the usually bustling pedestrian streets of the city centre were nearly empty, with many shops closed.

A stone’s throw away, there were no visitors by the famous Manneken Pis statue of a young boy urinating, usually surrounded by a crowd of tourists waiting in line to snap a picture.

“It’s sad, it’s unfortunate, it’s shocking,” said Sofiane, an Algerian student, who had come to pay her respects.

‘We’re not scared’

All day, the sound of police and ambulance sirens echoed through the streets, with roads cut off by heavily armed soldiers and police officers.

As night fell some signs of normality returned, with trains running from the main station and some roads opening up.

But on the square, where the country traditionally celebrates the victories of its “Red Devils” footballers, the crowd continued to swell.

Brussels Airport explosions Gareth Fuller / PA Wire Gareth Fuller / PA Wire / PA Wire

Like Belgium’s football team, the attacks have sparked a rare moment of unity in a country that is normally deeply divided between its French and Flemish-speaking communities.

“My mother and I came to show we’re proud of being Belgian and that we’re not scared. Because this morning I was terrified,” said Analphia Desmet, a 22-year-old communications student.

As more and more flowers were placed on the square, the crowd joined together to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Mourners waved banners saying “Brussels is beautiful” and “Je Suis Bruxelles” (I am Brussels) – a reference to the slogan that became a rallying cry after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris last year.

“We’re here to say we’re not scared, there’s a dozen of them, but we are thousands,” said Belgian student Juliette. / YouTube

© – AFP, 2016 with reporting by Rónán Duffy

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