AUDIO: Foreign Minister cannot rule out more Irish fatalities in Tunisia

An Irish woman is among 28 holiday makers to have been murdered in a terrorist attack at a Tunisian resort today, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has confirmed.

AUDIO: Foreign Minister cannot rule out more Irish fatalities in Tunisia

An Irish woman is among 28 holiday makers to have been murdered in a terrorist attack at a Tunisian resort today, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has confirmed.

The woman, who is understood to be a nurse from Co Meath, was on holidays with family members when she was gunned down in the attack this morning.

Speaking outside the Department of Foreign Affairs at 5pm this evening, Minister Flanagan confirmed the murder and stressed he "cannot rule out the possibility of further Irish deaths or injuries".

He said "a number of Irish families" were in the direct vicinity of the attack at a beach-side tourist strip containing four hotels, and are still hiding in their hotel rooms.

The nearest Irish consular, from our Madrid embassy, is due to land in Tunisia shortly while an evacuation plan is being considered to help Irish holiday makers escape.

It is still unclear what plans are in place for a Tunisia-bound flight which left from Shannon Airport just after 3pm today - before news of the Irish death was known.

Minister Flanagan confirmed earlier reports that an Irish person was among the 28 victims when at least two gunmen armed with assault rifles opened fire on holidaymakers at a beach beside two hotels in Sousse.

[comment] Rescuers at the scene. Pic: Tunisia TV1[/comment]

At least 36 other people were wounded.

The Irish victim is reported to be a middle-aged woman from Meath who was shot on the beach.

She was in Tunisia with her husband, who was not with her at the time of the attack.

"I condemn unreservedly the terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France today,” said Minister Flanagan.

“Sadly, I can confirm that an Irish citizen has been killed in the attack in Sousse , Tunisia.

"Our focus is on establishing whether any other citizens have been killed or injured. I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased. My Department is providing consular assistance to those affected.

"My Department has opened our Consular Support Line following the incident. Anyone with concerns about family or friends or with information should call the Department on 01 418 0200.

"Our Ambassador in Spain is en route to Tunisia accompanied by a consular official and will report to me on arrival. The Embassy in Madrid and our Honorary Consul, in conjunction with EU Embassies in Tunis, are monitoring the situation in Sousse, Tunisia, and are providing updates."

The Minister said Irish citizens due to travel to Tunisia over the coming days and who no longer wish to, should discuss their arrangements with their travel companies.

"In light of this incident we are changing our travel advice for Tunisia to 'exercise extreme caution'. This decision has been taken following consultation with our Embassy in Madrid and contact with our EU partners," he said.

"For those Irish citizens who are due to travel to Tunisia over the coming days and who now do not wish to travel, they should discuss their arrangements with the relevant travel companies.

"Irish citizens in Tunisia should remain extremely vigilant and follow the instructions of the police, tour operators, and their hotel staff. As this is a very fluid and fast moving situation our travel advice will be kept under review and we would urge those intending to travel to Tunisia to check the advice before travelling on www.dfa.ie/travel.

"I also want to offer my sympathy and my condolences to the Governments and peoples of Tunisia, Kuwait and France but, above all, to those directly affected.

"Dozens of people have been killed in these brutal attacks. Attacks like these sow fear and prompt revulsion, but they advance no political cause.

"Such attacks must be condemned wherever they occur but happening in Europe and on Europe's doorstep brings their full horror home to us here in Ireland.

"We must continue to work together for the stability of the Middle East and North Africa, and to address the threats to the people of Europe and the region presented by continued instability."

Martin Skelly, President of the Irish Travel Agents Association said: “We are deeply saddened by the news that an Irish woman has lost her life in the terror attack in Tunisia today.

“A number of ITAA travel agents and tour operators operate holidays to Tunisia and we will be working closely with them and the Department of Foreign Affairs to assist anyone currently in Tunisia, or with outstanding bookings for travel to Tunisia.”

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