Category: Archive

Ireland mourns for Tara

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

17-year-old Tara Whelan died after an explosive device detonated on a small mini-bus used to ferry tourists to the coastal resort of Kusadasi.
The teenager was vacationing on Turkey’s Aegean Coast with friends, twins Tracey and Lyndsey Galgey.
The Belfast Telegraph reported that the trio had saved for months for their first holiday abroad after a gruelling school year studying hard for the Leaving Certificate. Whelan’s friends stayed behind when she took the doomed bus into town for some shopping.
Three Turkish people and a British tourist also died in the explosion and up to 13 people were injured.
The Kurdish separatist organization the PKK has been blamed for the attack after having claimed responsibility for targeting a tourist resort in nearby Cesme last month.
Tara Whelan’s killing came just over a week after that of 22-year-old Irish citizen Ciaran Connolly in the London suicide attacks.
Whelan’s body was flown home to her hometown of Kilmeaden in Waterford on Monday night where her parents expressed forgiveness for the bombers.
An autopsy was carried out in Cork University Hospital.
In a statement released through the local parish priest, Father Michael O’Byrne, Tony and Francis Whelan called on the bombers to give up “the way of the bomb” and urged those in a position of power to bring the perpetrators to the “peace table.”
On Tuesday, Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern met with Turkish officials and discussed ways of improving tourist security in the area.
Ahern had traveled to Turkey in his capacity as UN special envoy in order to hold discussions on UN reform, however the talks were widened to take into account Saturday’s bombing.
Up to 1,200 Irish people are thought to be currently holidaying in the region.
Initial speculation suggested that the attack could have been the work of al- Qaeda agents timed to follow closely the bombings in London.
However, Turkish officials were quoted as saying they believed it was carried out by Kurdish separatists.
The Krdish separatist PKK last year re-launched its bombing campaign for an independent Kurdish homeland in south-east Turkey.
It bombed a number of hotels killing two tourists last August. Its most recent campaign came about after the collapse of a three-year ceasefire.
It is thought that the group has recently acquired explosive material from Iraq and has begun training suicide bombers. Since the beginning of the PKK’s campaign in 1984, up to 37,000 people have died.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, offered his sympathies.
A staement read:
“I am deeply shocked by this cruel and senseless act. Four people have lost their lives, including a young Irish woman. I offer my deepest sympathies to her family and to the families of the other victims of this tragedy, as well as to those who were injured.”
Late Tuesday, talks concluded between Ahern and his counterpart in Turkey.
Ahern said he was happy with the assurances he had been given from the Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, about increased security measures for tourists in the region.
Gul expressed his sympathy to the Whelan family.
In the meantime, the Department of Foreign Affairs is reviewing its travel advice for Turkey in the light of the attack. They reiterated advice to all Irish citizens in Turkey “or planning to travel there to exercise caution and to be particularly vigilant at all times.”
Jill Sheehy contributed to this story

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