Clare Deputy and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen T.D., has expressed his deepest sympathy to the families of the Irish Students killed and seriously injured in yesterday’s tragedy in Berkeley, California.
“My prayers and thoughts are with the families of those bereaved and I also wish to express my sincere concern for those who were injured in this tragic accident and wish them a full and speed recovery.
Every year, around 8,000 Irish Students travel on J1 visas to the United States and the San Francisco area is a very popular with as many as 35% on the programme last year going there.
Yesterday when the news broke about this tragedy there was a deep sense of shock and panic throughout Ireland including here in County Clare as parents at home tried to make contact with their loved ones. A number of families were in touch with my Constituency Office and it was a very difficult day for them as they tried to find out if their loved one was involved and their anguish was made even more difficult given that it was night time in the United States. Thankfully by last night there was relief for those families when their loved ones were all accounted for and safe.
Sadly, however, for the families of the six deceased students and those injured, the news was very different and the entire country is united in grief for these students whose lives have been taken too soon.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has activated its Crisis Centre and our Consulate in San Francisco is providing support for the families and all the Irish Students involved.
There are no words to describe this tragedy and our hearts go out to their families at this very difficult time.