Traditional Unionist Voice MLA Jim Allister has equated the “unmitigated evil” that manifested itself on the streets of Paris on Friday with atrocities committed here during the Troubles, naming the Greysteel ‘Trick or Treat’ massacre of 1993, amongst others.
Speaking in the Assembly on Monday, the North Antrim MLA also called for tighter border controls across Europe.
“We in this Province, of all places, know the horrors of terrorism. The scale of the slaughter in Paris, I think, causes us to struggle with the question of how any human being could do such things,” he said.
“It is a question that had to be asked in this Province as well, because the uncomfortable truth is that the unmitigated evil that manifested itself in a theatre in Paris was the same unmitigated evil that lined innocent workmen up against their van in Kingsmills and riddled them to death; the unmitigated evil that launched an attack on a restaurant in Paris was the same unmitigated evil that attacked a pub in Greysteel or in Loughinisland; and the unmitigated evil that launched bombs to kill was the same unmitigated evil that we experienced in La Mon and, yes, even in the most sacred of places, a remembrance service in Enniskillen,” he added.
Mr Allister described all terrorism as morally repugnant.
“Terrorists - all terrorists - are evil and remain evil. There are no good terrorists, even in retrospect. I trust that the people of France will have the resolve and determination to ensure that they will not pander to terrorists or fete them in any way, such as happened in this country.
“Another uncomfortable truth is that the open borders of Europe, sadly, have the appearance of supplying a supply line to the fifth column in Europe that would destroy our civilisation. Europe needs to assert itself and assert control over its borders before more of this horror is visited upon us. I trust that that will be a lesson learned from this horrendous episode,” said Mr Allister.
The new SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the mayhem in Paris cast a pall over his party conference at the weekend.
“As our party members gathered in Armagh, we were acutely aware of the tragedy that was taking place in the French capital. It cast a shadow over our proceedings,” he said.
“I also express our profound sadness following the suspected ISIS bombing of a busy Beirut marketplace that killed over 40 innocent people. These attacks, no matter where they happen, the scale of the destruction or the culprit, are an attack on all of us who value the primacy and power of peace.
“As a people and as an island, we acutely understand the suffering of the people of France and Lebanon. We know what it is like to face the threat of terror and violence, and to face down those who seek to murder and maim their way to political goals.
“Today, we stand in solidarity with the founding principles of the French republic: the liberty to live our lives free from the threat of violence; the equality of all peoples, regardless of colour or creed; and a fraternal bond between all peoples and all parties committed to the power of peace as a tool for change.
“We are all united in the Chamber, across these islands and across Europe against those who seek to shake the foundations of our peace. Let that spirit of unity be the message that we send to them. It says more than anything else we could do,” said Mr Eastwood.
Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir told MLAs how his daughter was almost caught up in the massacre.
“I followed the terrible events in Paris by social media, radio and TV, but I also had a running commentary because my daughter was down the street from Le Petit Cambodge, which was the first restaurant that was attacked.
“I thank those who gave her and her group shelter that night close to the restaurant. In the hours since then, she has told me about the atmosphere in Paris; about how frightened people are, but also how resolute they are.
“In her boyfriend’s circle, one young man was killed in the Bataclan concert hall, and, in her place of work, one friend has a close friend still missing. That is the horror that brings us here today in solidarity with Paris,” he said.