The Newry-based Rainbow Community will open a book of condolence tomorrow (Tuesday), to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Florida.
At least 49 people died during the early hours of Sunday morning when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire indiscriminately in the crowded Orlando venue.
It was the biggest ever loss of life in a mass shooting in the United States.
The slaughter has shocked the world.
And here, closer to home, the Newry Rainbow Community has expressed its abhorrence at an attack which it says was “fuelled by the hate and homophobia which blights the lives of countless people across the world”.
It has sent its condolences to the families of all those who have died.
And tomorrow (Tuesday), it will open a special book so that local people can add their condolences at this appalling crime.
The NRC, in a statement, said: “It is truly heartbreaking when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are targeted for death for that fact alone.
“The LGBT community – with our many allies here and across the world – will keep fighting for the right to live freely, openly and without fear.
“We must honour the victims of this crime by continuing our fight for full equality, embracing diversity and inclusion in the face of adversity and prejudice.
“Attacks on anyone – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation – are an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as human beings.”
The book will be available to sign at the NRC offices at 28A Monaghan Street, Newry, from tomorrow. People can add their names and personal messages of sympathy, solidarity and support between the following hours: Tuesday, 10-4pm and 7-9pm; Wednesday, 2-4pm; Thursday, 7-10pm; Friday, 12-3pm and 7-10pm; and Saturday, 2-5pm.
Other books of condolence have been opened at the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council offices in Newry, as well as the city’s Sean Hollywood Arts Centre.
The horrific slayings have also brought messages of sympathy and outrage from the Northern Ireland Assembly, with condolences to be sent to US President Barack Obama.
Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin has also voiced his shock and sadness.
He said: “Many Irish families enjoy visits to this beautiful and friendly place and it is heartbreaking to hear about such a high number of people killed in violent circumstances.
“The taking of innocent human life is always wrong.
“On behalf of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference I wish to express my profound condolences and I offer prayers of solidarity from Ireland to those who have been touched by this tragedy in the United States.
“In the coming days I ask that the faithful remember in their prayers, and at Mass, all those who have been injured or killed, and their families.”
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