Campaigning in the UK’s General Election was today suspended following last night’s Manchester terror attack which killed 22 and injured 59, many of them children.
The attack, by a lone, make suicide bomber, at an Ariana Grande concert, happened at 10.30 pm as the show ended and concert goers were leaving, many of them to meet their parents.
Around 4.00 am today Prime Minister Theresa May and leader of Labour’s Opposition Jeremy Corbyn agreed to temporarily halt the General Election campaign a little more than two weeks before polling day.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon delayed today’s planned launch of her party’s election manifesto.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd chaired an emergency meeting in Downing Street at Cabinet Briefing Room A, fancifully known as Cobra by UK media, at 9.00 am.
Prime Minister Teresa May spoke to the press following this meeting.
The Manchester Arena is half a mile from the Arndale Centre which was destroyed by a huge IRA bomb in June 1996.
Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Ian Hopkins confirmed the bomber died at the scene.
— CNN International (@cnni) May 23, 2017
“The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or was part of a network,” he said.
The Embassy of Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs are providing consular assistance for any Irish people who fear Irish citizens may have been killed or injured in the blast. See contact details.
The Manchester Arena can hold as many as 20,000 people.
As earlier reported many of those at the Ariana Grande concert were children or teenagers.
She tweeted last night: ”Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry. I don’t have words.”
Many of her peers in the entertainment industry, with huge teenage fan bases, tweeted similar sentiments.
The city of Manchester followed in the example of Paris when a similar atrocity occurred in late 2015 with people offering #RoomForManchester on social media for those unable to get home.
Newly elected Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:
“We are grieving today but we are strong.
“This is going to be a hard and difficult that will test every ounce of that strength.”
— Victoria Beckham (@victoriabeckham) May 23, 2017
The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins has, in a statement issued this morning from Áras an Uachtaráin, led Ireland’s condemnations and expressions of sympathy to those bereaved or injured in last night’s Manchester suicide bombing.
He especially offered his sympathy and that of the Irish people to the families of those who have lost their lives and those injured in the appalling attack on a place of recreation in Manchester, where young people and children were enjoying a concert, declaring:
“This cowardly attack on innocent citizens will have appalled all those who care for democracy, freedom and the right to live and enjoy the public space.
“Manchester has been home to the Irish and so many nationalities for centuries and at this terrible time I want to send the people of this great and welcoming city not only our sympathy but our solidarity.
“Our thoughts in Ireland are with all of the people of Manchester and our neighbours throughout the United Kingdom at this time.
“I am conveying this message to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and I will be writing formally to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to convey the sympathy of the Irish people.”
Outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke for many Irish people when he spoke of the country’s fondness for and deep ties to Manchester which has a large Irish population.
Mr Kenny said: “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.”
Scroll down for the official statement from the Irish Government.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D invited any Irish citizens who fear they may have family killed or injured in the blast to call the Consular Division of The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 353 1 408 2000.
Mr Flanagan 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 U.K. 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.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.”
Statement by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD
Expressions of Sympathy on the Manchester Bombing
Dail Eireann, Tuesday 23 May 2017
“On behalf of the Government and all the people of Ireland, I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the United Kingdom on the truly dreadful attack which took place in Manchester last night.
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.
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.
As I said this morning, these vile acts are a reminder of the depravity of the views held by the few.
Those beliefs have no place in our society.
I spoke with the Garda Commissioner earlier this morning, as has the Tánaiste and the Cabinet was briefed on developments.
The Garda Authorities are in ongoing contact with their UK police and security counterparts, directly and through the Garda Liaison Officer at our Embassy in London, to offer any
assistance they can.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and our Embassy in London are monitoring the situation but so far there are no reports of any Irish casualties.
Last night’s attack is a reminder that no-one can be considered immune from those whose hatred of our values drives such evil acts.
I can assure you that all necessary measures will be taken by our authorities to counteract such deadly threats. The Garda Authorities will continue also to work closely with their UK,
EU and other international counterparts in responding to the threat from international terrorism and violence inspired by extremists.
There can never be any justification for the inhumanity displayed in Manchester last night.
I know that the number of children caught up in these events makes it especially hard to bear for all involved. 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.
I expect to speak with Prime Minister May later this evening to discuss these awful events and to assure her of the sympathy and support of the Irish people.”