A man working near the European Commission’s main building said his decision not to take the Metro to the office after hearing of two explosions at Brussels airport may have saved his life.
Barry Magee, who is originally from Downpatrick in Co Down, who takes the subway to work in the EU quarter every morning, woke to the news of the attacks at the city’s airport and immediately emailed his boss to say he did not feel safe to take public transport.
A short time later he heard there had been an explosion on the line on which he would have been travelling.
Mr Magee said: “The fact that it happened really close to my own doorstep, on my way to work, that’s unnerving. That could’ve been me.”
Asked if he feels lucky he said: “Definitely.”
The 33-year-old said he was not planning on leaving his house in the south of the city for the rest of the day and could hear police and ambulance sirens as well as a helicopter flying overhead.
Mr Magee, a communications manager for the European biofuels industry, said he was not surprised by the attacks, describing Brussels as a “logical” target because of its status as the heart of the European Union.
He said: “In that sense I’m not surprised that there has been an attack. I’m actually surprised that it hasn’t happened before now.”
During the lockdown in the city last November, after the Paris attacks which were planned in Brussels, Mr Magee said he stayed indoors for up to five days, following the advice of authorities.
And he questioned why the same precautions did not appear to be taken this time.
He said: “I think there’s going to be questions asked of the authorities, why they didn’t immediately shut down the public transport system after the airport attacks.”
Mr Magee said the violence echoed the experience of people during the Troubles.
He said: “It’s weird. You come from living in Northern Ireland and you’ve seen what terrorism can do. You move abroad and think you’re getting away from that.”