Illustration: Saorla Wright
16 UCD students were in Paris on Erasmus exchanges at the time of the terrorist attacks on Friday 13th November, the University Observer has learned.
According to UCD’s European Programmes Officer Catherine Convery, all of the students have been contacted but not all had responded at the time of going to print. However, she added that “We have no reports of any of them being hurt.”
One Irish citizen has been reported as having been injured in the attacks, which left 129 people dead and a further 352 injured, 99 of whom are in a critical condition.
Third year UCD student Laureline Lemoine is currently doing her BCL in Panthéon-Assas University in Paris. She says, “I wasn’t near the places where it all happened but I was in the city centre of Paris, having drinks with people from my class, all UCD students, from the BCL/maîtrise program. I left the pub when the attacks started but I only heard about them when I was safely home. But the first thought I had was for all of my classmates who were on the way home too, and some of them lived near where the attacks were happening. I sent texts and I called people to warn them and at the end everyone was safe.”
Convery urged Erasmus students who are currently in Paris to keep in contact with their families at home and to stay safe. “In the coming days, students should follow any instructions given by the French authorities in relation to personal security and public order. They should also keep in contact with their families in Ireland, who may be anxious about them. If any student is affected by the events in Paris, they should seek out the support services in their host universities. The UCD support services are also available to them if they are back in Dublin in the next few days or weeks.”
The impact of the attacks on those still in Paris has been severe. Lemoine continued, “The worse part was this morning when I woke up and I heard how many had died. I couldn’t believe it. It still sounds unreal to me. I started to get scared about going back to college in Paris on Monday but I quickly realised that it was exactly what they wanted. For us to be afraid. So I will try my best to not be afraid and cherish life and to enjoy the beautiful city that is Paris… My prayers and thoughts are for everyone who was affected by those awful events.”
UCD student Chiara Piazzi also shared the impact that hearing about the Parisian attacks had on her. “I grab my phone and I start texting all my friends in Paris, for the next three hours I am buried in my bedroom. I can’t stop staring at my Facebook newsfeed to see if all my friends marked themselves safe in Paris, and I am talking to one of them about the situation on the phone… Although I am not Parisian or Lebanese, when attacks as dramatic as these ones of Friday 13th happen, I am affected; everyone around the world is affected.”
A statement from Minister Charlie Flanagan of the Department of Foreign Affairs said “The Irish Embassy in Paris is providing consular assistance to one injured Irish citizen. There is no indication of any other Irish casualties at this time but as a precaution I have activated my Department’s Consular Response Centre, with an experienced consular team in place to assist any families or citizens who have concerns. The Response Centre can be contacted on 01 418 0200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Between 3,500 and 4,000 people marched from the Spire on O’Connell Street on Saturday in solidarity with Paris and the victims of the attacks.