The Irish LGBT community gathered at a vigil last night to honor of the victims of Saturday night’s mass shooting in Orlando.
Irish gay rights organizations and LGBT support groups paid their respects to the victims of 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who opened fire in Pulse nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning, killing 49 and injuring 53 others, some critically, at a gathering on Dublin’s Dame Street.
— Dublin LGBTQ Pride (@DublinPride) June 13, 2016
Pulse was celebrating a Pride event as part of US Pride month and it is believed the attack was sparked by Mateen’s homophobia. Wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, he opened fire in the club at 2am Sunday morning. He was later killed in a shootout with officers after taking hostages.
The attack was the deadliest shooting in recent US history and Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Mateen was an American Muslim of Afghan descent and his links to terrorist organizations are currently being investigated.
In a joint statement released yesterday, Irish LGBT groups BeLongTo, GLEN and Teni said: “Speaking on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Ireland, our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the survivors and friends, families and loved ones of those who died.”
The groups also called for solidarity, asking for LGBT Muslims, in particular, to be remembered.
“Let us remember that LGBT Muslims are equally as terrified of an indiscriminately homophobic killer as anyone else, but are now likely to face increased racism as a result of this attack,” the statement said.
“One of the most powerful acts of solidarity we witnessed in the wake of the attack came from The Council on American-Islamic Relations in the US, an Islamic civil rights group, urging Muslims in the area to donate blood. Let’s make this tragedy bring our diverse intersectional communities together, not tear it apart.”
Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny also expressed his condolences in a letter to US President Barack Obama.
Speaking on behalf of the people of Ireland, Kenny wrote: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the United States, the community in Orlando and the LGBT community, and above all with the families and loved ones of those so senselessly killed and injured.
“Once again we have witnessed the horror of young people being attacked as they enjoy themselves in their own community.
“Words cannot capture the shock and revulsion felt in Ireland, and around the world, at this outrage.”
His words were echoed by Irish President Michael D. Higgins.
“Our thoughts are with the people of Florida and the community in Orlando and Orange County at this difficult time,” Higgins said, according to The Irish Times.
“The loss of innocent life on such a horrendous scale is truly shocking and challenges us all.”
President Michael D. Higgins sent his condolences to the families of the victims of the shooting in Orlando: https://t.co/rIGDkcrGjP— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) June 13, 2016
Sinn Féin councillor Mary Ellen Campbell, who was recently elected as Belfast city’s first openly gay deputy mayor, expressed her horror “at the slaughter of innocents.”
"This attack on a group of people enjoying a Pride event is an attack on the progress that the LGBT community globally have made in the struggle for human dignity and respect,” she told The Irish News.
“The world needs to show its support for the LGBT community at this time."
Catholic Archbishop Eamon Ryan joined those offering their condolences stating, “The taking of innocent human life is always wrong.”
“On behalf of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference I wish to express my profound condolences and I offer prayers of solidarity from Ireland to those who have been touched by this tragedy in the United States.”
President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams released a statement extending his sympathy to the family and friends of the victims.
“I want to extend my sincerest and heartfelt sympathy and solidarity to the families and friends of those killed and the survivors of the despicable act of brutality and hate in Orlando yesterday,” Adams said.
“The Orlando shooting is a painful and harrowing reminder of the struggle for gay, lesbian and transgender equality the world over. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected at this time.”
Thoughts & prayers r with people of Orlando especially families & friends of dead & injured.— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) June 12, 2016
A Book of Condolences will be open in Dublin's Mansion House until Wednesday.
I will open a Book of Condolence today at 11am at the Mansion House for those who died in Orlando. Open 10am - 4pm Monday - Wednesday.— Lord Mayor of Dublin (@LordMayorDublin) June 13, 2016