Cairns tragedy grandfather's plea: 'cherish the children'

THE grandfather of seven of the eight children killed in Cairns has today issued a touching Christmas Eve plea for children to be cherished.

Rod Willie faced the media in Cairns for the first time since the mother of seven of the children and aunt to another, Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday, 37, was charged with eight counts of murder.

The four boys and four girls, aged between two and 14 years, were found dead in the home at Manoora last Friday.

Mr Willie said the tragedy had directly affected multiple families.

"We are working carefully and respectfully as immediate families, extended families and as a community, through a sensitive and cultural process to ensure our loved ones are respectfully put to rest," he said.

"Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through a very difficult process."

No date has been set for funeral ceremonies, but Mr Willie said the families would lay the victims to rest in Cairns early in the New Year.

He praised the community for its tremendous support.

Mr Willie also urged the public to band together during the Christmas period and "hold dear such occasions with family and friends".

Families needed to regularly offer and seek loving support from one another, he said.

"Children are the most vulnerable of our society whose innocent lives deserve the greatest of love and care," he said.

"Cherish them."

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