The girlfriend of an Irishman shot in the horror that unfolded in Paris last Friday night has said they were “beyond lucky” to have survived the scene of the massacre in the Bataclan concert venue where 89 others died.
Katie Healy, who lives in Cork, wept as she described how boyfriend David Nolan, 32, from Millstreet, had thrown himself on top of her twice in an effort to protect her from Islamist State militants who opened fire indiscriminately on concert-goers.
She had been standing by a doorway in the Bataclan when the gunmen entered and she felt a “splash on her shoulder”. “I turned to David, thinking someone had spilled a drink,” she said. In retrospect, it was the blood of a victim as the sound of automatic gunfire rang out around the venue.
“People we stood and danced with died and we watched them die as we lay down and played dead. We are beyond lucky,” she said.
Katie told RTÉ News that the automatic gunfire ended when everyone was on the ground. “Everybody was moaning,” she said. Then single shots started and they realised the gunmen had begun to execute people.
“We said our goodbyes as we realised what was about to happen to us. Then someone opened a door, and we ran.”
However, David could not run and, at first, Katie thought he was in shock, not realising he had been shot.
A group of French people helped them and they made it out to the street where others offered to help. A girl let them into an apartment and tended to David’s wounds. Katie said they “eventually found safety” by getting into a lift up to a high floor where a doctor was able to treat David.
David has since had surgery and is doing reasonably well. Further surgery will be required when he returns to Ireland.
Katie said that “we are beyond lucky people” and that they would “never forget the people who died”.
David had taken Katie to Paris as a treat for her birthday.
In Ireland, those mourning for Paris fell silent at a series of events to mark the tragedy.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke on behalf of the country by saying “mayhem and murder have no place in society”.
While stressing the authorities are “very conscious terrorism can strike anywhere”, Mr Kenny said there is no evidence Ireland is at risk.
However, he said the national security committee — comprising his own department, Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Defence — has met twice since the shootings and will provide the Cabinet with a full briefing this morning.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will join her European counterparts at a Justice Ministers’ Council meeting on Friday called in response to last weekend’s events. It’s understood she will tell Cabinet today that there is no increased terrorist threat to Ireland, and security measures are likely to remain unchanged.
At a French embassy event attended by President Michael D Higgins, hundreds of people repeated the scenes in January over the Charlie Hebdo murders by falling silent at 11am to remember the 132 who have died.
The Paris shootings are expected to dominate today’s Cabinet meeting.
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