All involved will receive every support possible
Published 18/06/2015 | 02:30
The news of the appalling tragedy in Berkeley, California, this week struck me first and foremost as a father of two young girls, one of whom is in college. My heart goes out to the families and friends who have suffered such a tragic loss.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, my priority has been to ensure that the bereaved, the injured and those who have been left shocked and traumatised by this dreadful event will receive every possible support from my department, in Dublin and in California.
I immediately activated my Department's Consular Crisis Centre to provide information and support to the families of the bereaved and injured. Our expert staff have also provided support and reassurance to the hundreds of worried parents who called our emergency response line. There were over 500 calls on that day. Additional Foreign Affairs staff have been deployed to the Irish Consulate in San Francisco.
There is constant contact between our offices in Dublin and San Francisco, where our consulate is working with local authorities to ensure that every possible support is provided to those who need it most. As family members of the deceased and injured made that most difficult journey to Berkeley, an experienced consular team assisted the family members at Dublin Airport.
I would like to thank the Irish community in San Francisco, local residents and the local authorities, all of whom have generously offered assistance.
Of course, I am conscious of the need to support all the students affected by this tragedy, some of whom are physically injured and others who may be uninjured but who will be deeply affected by the event.
Far from home, for some the shock and sense of loss will be all the more acute.
The Consulate has worked with local authorities in California to set up an incident centre in Berkeley, where grief counsellors will be on site and people will have facilities to call home.
My Department and our Consulate in San Francisco will continue to support the families and affected students in every way we can. Our Consular Crisis helpline remains open (353 1) 418 0200.