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Paris attacks bring back Enniskillen memories

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Nora Hickey M’Sichili and Clara Tracey were shocked by the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices

TWO ENNISKILLEN women living in Paris have spoke of the horror in the city following last week’s attacks which left 17 people dead.

Over a three day period last week a total of 17 people were killed in attacks at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, on a police officer, and at a kosher supermarket.

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Nora Hickey M’Sichili is originally from Enniskillen. Her mother was curator of Fermanagh County Museum and Nora is a former pupil of Mount Lourdes Grammar School. She has been director of  the Centre Culturel Irlandais  and living in Paris since September 2013.

At the time of the first attack on Wednesday Nora was in her office in the Centre Culturel Irlandais in the Old Irish College, just a half an hour walk away.

Speaking to the Herald she explained the mood in the city following the attacks was one of ‘shock, sadness and incredulity’. Nora also expressed her own feelings of ‘sadness, defiance and solidarity’. “We had a press lunch at the Centre Culturel Irlandais yesterday and I was talking to a journalist who had worked for Charlie Hebdo. He spoke of his anger and felt the attack represented the repression of his generation of free and radical thinkers that emerged from the revolution of 1968.

Nora was one of the 1.5 million people who took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to show solidarity with the victims. She said the experience brought back memories of 1987 and the Enniskillen bomb.

“During my presentation to the journalists at the press lunch yesterday I told them that I recognised the feelings of shock and sadness and tension that were apparent in Paris yesterday morning in particular, and realised suddenly that I had felt the day after the Enniskillen bomb when there was a stillness and eeriness in the empty town.

“I was in Dublin at the time of the Enniskillen bomb and heard about it on the radio, but returned that evening. Coming from a Catholic background, I remember at the time feeling a great sense of anger and shame that such atrocities were being carried out by so-called Catholic, republicans, I imagine many French Muslims will have similar feelings of anger and resentment.”

Clara Tracey from Enniskillen has been living in Paris for the past five years working as a business developer for Cashel Blue and other Irish farmhouse cheeses in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. She was in Ireland at the time of the attacks  and explained that when she arrived back in the city on Monday there was an eerie calm.

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“I was surprised that it was so easy to get a taxi as I’d thought there would be higher demand due to people avoiding the metro, but the driver told me people are just staying in. This was echoed in the unusually deserted cafe terraces. There is definitely an eerily quiet numbness in the air which is not at all Parisian, however the French press continue to resolutely campaign for freedom of expression to be upheld, and the vast majority of French appear to be supportive of this.”

She continued, “It’s impossible not to be a little bit more anxious than usual when leaving my apartment and I am less inclined to take the metro. If things were to deteriorate I would consider moving but not at the moment.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA