MANCHESTER BOMBING - Eye witness interviews, reactions and could a terrorist attack hit Ireland?
A loud bang, screaming children running for the exits in panic and injured people – that was the scene in Manchester last night in the immediate aftermath of the attack at the Ariana Grande gig.
22 people have been killed and almost 60 have been injured. There are also reports that some children and teenagers are still missing.
Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that children are among the 22 people killed in the blast. They said that the attacker had also died in the explosion.
Eyewitnesses described the incident as one of terror and panic.
One witness who was waiting on her 17 year old daughter said that after the blast went off she felt heat on her neck and that there were bodies everywhere.
Ambulances and bomb disposal teams rushed to the venue, as family members frantically searched for their loved ones, and residents opened their doors to stranded concert-goers after trains were cancelled.
One witness, Gary Walker, told BBC Radio 5 Live he was hit by shrapnel in his foot and his wife sustained a stomach wound as they waited for their daughters.
The Mayor of Manchester said that this terror attack was an evil act targeting children and their families.
The attack was carried out by a lone male suicide bomber who detonated an improvised explosive device.
Police are investigating whether he acted alone or was part of a network
It is the worst terrorist attack in the UK since 56 people were killed in the 7/7 London bombings in 2005.
Manchester Arena said the explosion happened outside the venue, as people began streaming from the doors.
The victims are being treated at eight hospitals across Greater Manchester. The first named victim was 18 year old A level student Georgina Callander.
Countries around the world are sending their condolences and condemning their attack. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described the Manchester bombing as an attack on "innocence and happiness".
Mr Kenny said the country's sympathies are with the victims of the Manchester bombing and they will offer any support they can to the British government.
He condemned the attack and said "Obviously people went to a concert last night to enjoy themselves, to have a really good time, and so many will not come home,"
Countries around the world and Europe have greatly increased their security in response to the spate of terrorist attacks in England, France, Belgium and Germany among other places over the past few years.
But what about Ireland? Concerns have previously been raised about Ireland’s efforts to combat terrorism, with security expert Tom Clonan calling it “Europe’s weakest link in terms of counter terrorism awareness, preparedness and training”.
Concerns have been raised over a lack of adequate Garda training and resources. However, security services say they are in regular contact with their foreign counterparts and are always monitoring threats of terrorist activity.
But what do you think? I want to get your reactions to the shocking attack on Manchester today.
And I want to know what you think Ireland’s ability to handle such a shocking and depraved act.
Do you think Ireland is equipped to handle a terror attack?