In Poland and Ireland, as well as on social networking sites, there has been an outpour of emotion and sympathy following the identification of James Nolan the soccer fan, who drowned in the Brda river, in Bydgoszcz, in the early hours of last Sunday.
The 21-year-old Wicklow student was last seen by his friends in the early hours of Sunday morning while they were celebrating in the northern Polish city. The group of friends were travelling in Poland en route to the UEFA European Championship in Poznan.
On Thursday hundreds of Polish residents lined the river Brda where the young man was found. Flowers, candles and photos of the Irish student adorned with black ribbons.
The Mayor of Bydgoszcz Mayor Rafal Bruski has asked UEFA president Michel Platini for a minute’s silence to be observed at a stadium ahead of one of the upcoming quarter-finals.
In his letter he said “It would be a symbolic gesture of respect from all of us, showing that in such moments the great football family is united”
Speaking to the public he said “Let us pay tribute to the Irish - the best supporters of the tournament, and let it be a day of solidarity with those who are the most affected by this untimely death.
Bydgoszcz city hall spokesman Piotr Kurek told AFP “An Irish flag flew at half mast in front of city hall, and green-white-orange flags will adorn the historic city centre where the tragedy occurred...This is not entirely consistent with official protocol, but we wanted to express our solidarity with Ireland.”
In Bydgoszcz tourist district cafes and restaurants decorated their shop fronts with Irish flags, flowers and photos of Nolan with black ribbons.
Szymon Hochenberg, a bar owner said “We also wanted to adorn our bar, but it’s impossible to buy an Irish flag in Bydgoszcz. I’ve been searching for one everywhere since yesterday.”
Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny expressed his sympathy today in Dublin.
“I’m so sad about this. I understand this was a wonderful young man. It’s so distressing for his Dad and Mam and for the family...As the Tánaiste said, the Government on behalf of all the people offer our genuine and sincere sympathy and consolation to the Nolan family.”
He continued saying it was “a tragic end to a wonderful adventure for a young man full of the joys of life, an avid follower of the Irish soccer team”.
An autopsy will be carried out on the young man’s body but not foul play is suspected.
For now the Nolan family are unsure when they will be able to bring his remains home to Ireland.
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