France observes minute's silence in memory of Nice attacks; books of condolence open in Ireland

France has marked a national moment of silence in memory of the 84 people killed in the Nice truck attack, as thousands of people massed on the city's waterfront promenade.

With flowers in their hands and tears in their eyes, crowds stood on the rocky beach for several minutes looking towards the Promenade des Anglais, the road where the attack targeting Bastille Day celebrations occurred.

Driver Mohamed Lahouiaej Bouhlel sped his truck through the crowd, killing 84 people including several children and leaving more than 300 others injured.

Among those at the ceremony in Nice was French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and people fell silent across the nation to remember the victims.

Ireland is also paying its respects as all tricolours on Government buildings here are flying at half mast.

The President Michael D. Higgins has added his name to a book of condolences in Dublin's Mansion House.

President Michael D Higgins has called for people to make a stand for democracy in the face of those who abuse sacred texts.

Mr Higgins signed a book of condolences in the Mansion House in Dublin for the victims of the Nice attack and called for patience in trying to understand the motivation behind terror atrocities.

The book at the Mansion House is open to the public on Monday and Tuesday.

President Higgins said: "We are in a period of time where, for a whole series of different factors, people are seizing and distorting and very often using pieces of text, often sacred texts, massively abusing these in a way that it would be absurd if it did not have such a violent outcome.

"What we all have to do is take a stand for democracy, prepare for democracy."

The President noted statements made in the aftermath the Nice about the value of education and what he called the "public world".

He also said it is important to recognise the need to address great problems across Europe - including unemployment, access to education and feelings of hopelessness and alienation.

"In terms of insecurity for economic reasons, people may abuse difference, people may seek to whip up opposition to accepting diversity," the President said.

Mr Higgins described the lorry attack in Nice as an appalling, cowardly and incredible act on children and people celebrating France's national day.

With Turkey attempting to restore order after the weekend's failed coup, President Higgins said he hoped the country's leaders and security chiefs would respond with values of democracy and human rights.

"The quality of your response always defines your democracy," he said.

"The quality of response in France so far - threatened so often and so frequently recently - has been to say we will not be dislodged for our way of life, we are the home of democracy, there will be democracy to be expected in our streets."

In Cork, Alliance Française de Cork will hold a silent Vigil at 6pm this evening at the National Monument on Grand Parade.

The city's Lord Mayor has also opened a Book of Condolences in the offices of Alliance Française de Cork, and it will stay open until July 29, 2016.

It came after Bouhlel's uncle claimed his nephew was indoctrinated about two weeks ago by an Algerian member of the Islamic State group in Nice.

Sadok Bouhlel said that given his nephew's family problems - he was estranged from his wife and three children - the Algerian "found in Mohamed an easy prey".

Bouhlel's rapid radicalisation has puzzled investigators. Friends and family said he had not been an observant Muslim in the past.

IS has claimed responsibility for the attack, but French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said investigators have found no sign yet that Bouhlel had links to a particular network.

Meanwhile, the French government has defended its efforts to fight IS abroad and at home, announcing new air strikes against their strongholds in the past two days.

President Francois Hollande's Socialist administration has come under blistering criticism from opposition conservatives after the attack in Nice, with former president Nicolas Sarkozy accusing the government of bad policies that he says have failed to prevent three major attacks in the past 18 months.

But Mr Cazeneuve hit back on Monday, listing a series of laws and extra police forces created under Mr Hollande's presidency ''to face a threat that France was not prepared for'' when he took over from Mr Sarkozy in 2012.

After a special security meeting, defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French forces in the US-led coalition struck IS targets again overnight and on Saturday. French war planes have been involved in the operation in Iraq and to a lesser degree in Syria.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, a minute's silence is being held in memory of the victims of the Nice truck attack after European foreign ministers gather for meetings.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "We will remember the victims who lost their lives in this cruel event, those injured and their families and loved ones."

Mr Flanagan will also have talks for the first time with Britain's new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

More on this topic

Pope Francis meets families of Nice lorry attackPope Francis meets families of Nice lorry attack

Death toll from Nice lorry attack rises after man dies in hospitalDeath toll from Nice lorry attack rises after man dies in hospital

Airline warns of drop in travel to France after attacksAirline warns of drop in travel to France after attacks

Two more suspects arrested in connection with Nice attackTwo more suspects arrested in connection with Nice attack


More in this Section

Donald Trump and Twitter duel over president’s vow to crack down in MinneapolisDonald Trump and Twitter duel over president’s vow to crack down in Minneapolis

Timing of Boris Johnson’s announcement on allowing group meet-ups in UK questionedTiming of Boris Johnson’s announcement on allowing group meet-ups in UK questioned

Global backlash after CNN reporter arrested live on air by US policeGlobal backlash after CNN reporter arrested live on air by US police

UK police probe death of man at castle after ‘altercation with two youths’UK police probe death of man at castle after ‘altercation with two youths’


Lifestyle

A whiff of new normality is in the air, writes Des O'SullivanAntiques: How to put a post-lockdown world in the frame

Another week, another fiendishly fun test of your arts and showbiz knowledge from Irish Examiner Arts Editor Des O'DriscollScene & Heard: Fun culture quiz

The story of how the Cork-based executive head chef faced her “demons” and turned around her life just before her 30th birthday.This is me: Trisha Lewis transforms her body and mindset

A star-studded finale from the Late Late Show and a classic Brazil v France encounter feature among today's top tips.Friday's TV Highlights: A star-studded finale from the Late Late Show and a classic Brazil v France encounter

More From The Irish Examiner