Saturday 3 December 2016

'Ireland will forever be grateful' - Berkeley police department receives 'thank you' letters from Irish public

Published 19/06/2015 | 10:59

Books of condolence for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse are opened at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Books of condolence for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse are opened at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes left in a book of condolence in the chapel at St Mary's College in Rathmines, Dublin, where UCD students Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan studied before they were killed in a balcony collapse in the US. Niall Carson/PA Wire
A flag flies at half mast at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin, to honour the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Candles are lit in memory of the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Members of the public queue to sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Niall Carson/PA Wire
A list of the names of the victims beside a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin opened in memory of those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke (right) invites members of the public to sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Messages written by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina in a book of condolence opened at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Michael D Higgins signs a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Families in Ireland have shown their support and "heartfelt gratitude" for the police department and the fire department in Berkeley following the tragic balcony collapse last Monday night.

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Authorities in the California Bay area have revealed that they have received a number of mails from Ireland thanking them for their "compassion" during and following the "distressing" incident.

Berkeley Police Officer Byron White posted some of the 'thank you' letters on his Facebook page.

One family from Dublin wrote to the police department to convey their "heartfelt gratitude to all of the officers that responded to the balcony collapse which took the lives of several young Irish students and injured several more".

"While we aren't directly affected by this tragedy our hearts are broken, to have something like this happen to a child is heartbreaking, to have it happen to a child hundreds of miles from home has touched us all," the letter reads.

"It's clear from what we have seen in the media that in their time of need they were surrounded by compassion. We are also aware that behind every uniform is a person so our thoughts are also with those who responded.

"May the angels wrap their loving arms around you all and keep you safe."

Another example of how appreciative people who remain in Ireland are came in the form of letter from a "young Irish student".

"Go raibh mile maith agaibh," it begins.

"I would like to express my deepest thanks to all of the officers who assisted during the Berkeley balcony tragedy.

"The scenes must have been beyond distressing and despite your position, you are only human. I am sure that your presence during the last few months of these young people's lives must have been one comfort before slipping away and for that Ireland will forever be grateful.

"We wish you all the best and thank you for keeping so many Irish students safe every year. your work is appreciated by all of us."

Meanwhile, the families of some of the six Irish students who died after falling from a balcony in California have laid flowers at the scene before a flight to bring home the remains of five of them is due to leave on Sunday. 

The parents of Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcán Miller and Eimear Walsh were expected to finally see their remains late last night - but it remains unclear if that has happened amid criticism from the Mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, over red tape that has delayed the repatriation process.

The families are said to be exhausted but comforted by the immense solidarity shown to them by the local community in Berkeley, as well as the Irish Diaspora and the several hundred JI students who have held two separate memorials.

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