Irish showed 'essence of humanity' after J1 tragedy
President Michael D Higgins has expressed his gratitude to the Irish community in the US for their response following the Berkeley tragedy, which demonstrated the "very essence of humanity".
Speaking at Filoli House in San Francisco, President Higgins recounted the help of the diaspora when six students were killed and seven injured after the balcony collapse.
"It was that global family that we relied on this summer when our nation was struck by tragedy when the events in Berkeley extinguished six of our brightest lights and dimmed those of seven young men and women," he said.
"The response of the Irish community in the Bay Area showed the very essence of humanity and the exceptional solidarity that exists within this generous and close-knit community."
As part of his official eight-day visit to the US, President Higgins will tomorrow meet with medical staff, first responders and volunteers who attended the scene of the tragedy.
He will also plant a tree in Berkeley in memory of the students who died there in June.
"I will have the opportunity to meet many of those who assisted the families of those affected, but I know that so many of you here tonight also contributed to the incredible mobilisation of support that took place during those dark days," he said.
"On behalf of the Irish people, I thank you for all that you have done - it is unforgettable and moved us greatly, and it is deeply appreciated."
Mr Higgins said it is impressive to see how the strength of this Irish Diaspora meant that, in so many instances, the Irish abroad lead successful and fulfilled lives in the countries they call home, while retaining a deep pride in the unique heritage and culture that they have inherited from their parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
"We can all be proud of the great contribution our Diaspora has made across the generations to their new homes around the world, making such a significant impact as they have in the areas of business, public service, education, health, the arts and so many other important areas which lie at the heart of a vibrant society," he added.
"I am deeply grateful in particular, for the generosity with which our global Irish family unfailingly and generously reaches out a hand of friendship to new Irish emigrants, as they begin the difficult and often lonely task of building new lives in towns and cities far away from family and home."