Galway man living in Brussels forced to reassess options after bombings

It’s too close to home with a young family to consider

Seamus McCarthy pictured with his son Patrick.

Seamus McCarthy pictured with his son Patrick.

A Galway man who is based in Brussels for the past 10 years says he will have to consider moving home due to the ongoing security threat in the Belgian capital.

It follows last week's bombing atrocity in which 35 innocent citizens lost their lives after attacks at Brussels International Airport and a city metro station. The death toll continues to rise as 200 people were injured, many critically. The Islamic State (IS ) militant group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Galway native Seamus McCarthy is now faced with the agonising decision of having to uproot his family from a life they love due to circumstances completely out of his control. Speaking to the Galway Advertiser this week, Mr McCarthy was unsure about his future plans. "There is definitely an undercurrent of anger from me about the situation I find myself in. From people I have been meeting, there is a lot of anger with the police. After Paris [where 130 people were killed in a terrorist attack by IS last November], there was a high security presence. People said this could not happen because security was so tight - but it has - and questions have to be asked - how did it happen again?"

The Renmore man, who is married with a young family, says if it was just himself he would not think twice about staying put, but is worried for his children's safety. "I have a six-month-old baby boy and a two-year-old son, when you have a family it is different, there are other people who have to be considered. I was in the metro where the second bomb exploded, with Patrick in the buggy, two days before the explosion. It makes the whole thing very close to home."

He is well immersed in life in Brussels, running O'Reilly's Irish bar in the Place de la Bourse, and his wife Clare has a position with Toyota. The pub has been a hive of activity over the past week, with all the global media outlets basing themselves in the vicinity as a makeshift shrine to the victims has been created across the road. Thousands of people have been attending nightly vigils with candles and flowers. "Fox News have been using my office overhead the bar for the past three days. Out of a horrific situation, we have actually ended up meeting some very interesting people. I think Brussels is very different to Paris in that people are back on the streets again very quickly. We closed the bar for one day in solidarity with the victims, but all the businesses in the area are back open. The atmosphere is quite tense, but there is an air of resilience from people as well, that they don't want their lives to be ruled by these terrorists."

There is no doubt that he certainly has a tough decision to make. "To be honest I love it here and we have a really nice life. It is a great city, people are so friendly, and there is a brilliant ex-pat community, the weather is lovely as well and we both enjoy our jobs. It is very hard to turn your back on that. But people will say - oh all the main European cities are under threat. Every time I hear that, I am inclined to think that somewhere nice and peaceful like Barna is not under threat."

Ironically Mr McCarthy's father found himself in the very same situation back in the 1970s. "My parents were living in Dublin in 1974 at the time of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. They had bought a house in Artane the year previously so were well settled. Three bombs exploded in Dublin at rush hour. My dad used to cycle to work every day, but after the bombs, he just decided he did not want to bring up a young family in that environment. They sold the house and moved to Galway."

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