Seamus Dooley - © Jess Hurd
12 January 2015
The bells of Christ Church Cathedral pealed in unison as the list of names was read, silently, slowly and with the deep reverence reserved for martyred dead.
The French Ambassador held back tears as he surveyed the scene at the Dubh Linn Gardens. Poets, writers, editors, photographers, reporters joined with trade union leaders, students, musicians and police officers, united in solidarity and remembrance as they held aloft the poster: Je Suis Charlie.
The slaughter at Paris brought together representative of the trade union movement, led by John Douglas, Congress President, and representatives of the employers and regulatory bodies ,including the BAI and the Press Council of Ireland, and a dazzling array of creative workers for whom Wednesday last held very deep significance.
An eerie silence descended as Irish Executive Council Cathaoirleach, Gerry Curran, led the Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke, protocol demanding that the First Citizen be given due prominence, even when a Republic stands in solidarity with the equal citizens of another Republic.
Also present were the Tanaiste, (deputy prime minister, the ministers for justice and communications, the Garda commissioner and senior officials of the trade union movement.
They joined more than 400 people gathered on Saturday morning in a garden replete with symbolism.
The gathering entered from Ship Street, you passed the Veronica Guerin garden, under the watchful eye of the statue of the murdered Sunday Independent journalist and NUJ member, whose spirit has been majestically captured in bronze, or via Dame Street, to the comforting music of a waterfall in a remembrance garden saluting the sacrifices of police officers killed in the line of duty.
As we gathered in the shadow of the Chester Beatty library, a symbolism of multiculturalism and creativity which houses 6,000 individual pieces of Islamic art, it was a reminder of the true meaning of a religion defiled by those who presume the right to take lives in return for taking offence.
Journalists and police are seldom on the same side. On Saturday in Dublin Gerry Curran, ramrod straight and dressed in deep mourning black, put it best. "Cartoonists have been killed for drawing lines on a page, police officers murdered for defending the thin blue line," he said.
I struggled for words of comfort, inspiration or even relevance as I contemplated closing remarks before the deeply moving lament, "The Wounded Hussar" played by Neilidh Mulligan. The Uileann piper had last played at the Freedom Walk in Dublin Castle during the 2013 International Federation of Journalists World Congress, commemorating journalists killed because they dared to seek the truth.
Not for the first time an Irish man with a French connection came to my assistance.
Reflecting on the challenges and duties facing journalism and the creative arts in the wake of Wednesday's murders I recalled Beckett's lines: "I can't go on. I must go on.
I'll go on."
Je Suis Charlie.
I'll go on.
Freedom of expression won't be stymied by terror, Gerry Curran, Cathaoirleach of NUJ in Ireland, in the Irish Independent.