Sympathy and hope that such a tragedy unlikely in NI

The shooting of 19 children at a school in the United States has prompted shock and horror around the world.

By Niall Deeney
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 8:15 am
People mourn outside of the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.
People mourn outside of the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.

The massacre has prompted fresh calls for gun control measures in the United States.

The Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma, former rugby international Trevor Ringland, who is now a special envoy to the United States, and Education Minister Michelle McIlveen were amongst those expressing sympathy following the latest massacre in an American school.

The horror unfolded when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, 85 miles west of San Antonio, killing at least 19 children and two adults.

It is America’s deadliest school shooting since 20 children and six adults died at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in late 2012.

The gunman – identified by officials as Salvador Ramos, who lived in the community – was killed by law enforcement responding to the massacre.

Ms Yiasouma said safety measures taken in the UK following the Dunblane massacre in 1996, when a gunman killed 16 primary school pupils and one teacher in Scotland, means schools in Northern Ireland are safer.

“I am horrified and deeply saddened by the tragic events at the primary school in Texas, and want to pass on my heartfelt sympathy to all those involved,” she said.

“Regrettably this is not the first time this has happened in the United States of America but thankfully the situation here is very different.”

She added: “Additional safeguards were put in place across the UK following the shooting in Dunblane in 1996. Therefore our strict firearms regulations mean it is highly unlikely something similar could happen here.”

Mr Ringland, who was appointed as the UK’s first special envoy to the United States on Northern Ireland in June last year, also expressed his sympathies with the families of those killed in the shooting in Texas.

“With all such incidents, we feel for the families involved after such a terrible tragedy.

“It is just so, so sad. From all the people of Northern Ireland, our hearts go out to the families.”

Ms McIlveen said: “The events in Texas are truly heart-breaking and no-one could fail to be moved by such indiscriminate murder.

“It is beyond comprehension to think of so many children and teachers going to school only never to return.”