Berkeley priest to be honoured by President Higgins
Published 31/08/2015 | 02:30
A San Francisco priest who helped the family and friends of the Berkeley tragedy is to be honoured by President Michael D Higgins and the Irish Government.
Fr Brendan McBride - who is based in the States - is the founder of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center in the Californian city, close to where the six Irish students were killed earlier this summer.
The Donegal native has been named by the Department of Foreign Affairs as one of the 10 recipients of this year's 'Presidential Distinguished Service Awards'.
He is being honoured for committing "his life's work to serving the Irish community through advocacy and the provision of support services", and his leading efforts in the US's immigration reform policy.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan's office also acknowledged the "central role" Fr McBride played in providing support to those involved in the accident in Berkeley earlier this summer. He travelled to the three hospitals where the survivors were treated and provided support for their devastated families and friends.
He has been in San Francisco since 1996 and is the President of the Irish Apostolate in the United States.
Other recipients include people based in Japan, Peru and Kenya.
They are all being honoured for how they served Ireland with "distinction" and for the way they "actively contributed to Ireland in a sustained manner".
Actor Gabriel Byrne is being honoured for his "sterling service" in the role of 'cultural ambassador' for Ireland, particularly for his support of the Irish Arts Centre in NYC.
The other recipients include well-known businessman Tom Moran, Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa and Irish missionary Sr Miriam Duggan.
British solicitor Gareth Peirce is also being recognised for her work as a human rights activist and her contribution to the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Ms Peirce has worked on a number of high-profile cases, including those of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, and she recently spoke in Dublin at the Innocence Project.
Mr Flanagan said we "owe a huge debt of gratitude" to the recipients.