Thursday 29 September 2016

Minister Deenihan 'inspired' by injured Berkeley student Conor Flynn's 'determination'

Published 19/06/2015 | 21:58

Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan has said that he was "inspired" by the determination of injured student Conor Flynn as he expected him to make "a full recovery".

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Speaking at a press conference earlier this evening (Irish time), the minister said he was "very encouraged with the spirit" that he saw in the young man who was injured in the Berkeley balcony tragedy.

"Conor was very positive and it helped, no doubt that four of his friends were with him; one of them coming from Chicago, another from San Diego. That's an expression of support that these young people have for each other."

"But also his determination to make a full recovery - that was really inspirational. Also his concern for the people that are injured and his hope that they would all make a full recovery as well, that was his hope. Of course, his sorrow for his lost friends as well."

Injured student Jack Halpin
Injured student Jack Halpin
Conor Flynn

Minister Deenihan tonight thanked the John Muir medical centre for the way they "looked after" both Conor and Jack Halpin and said they were "very fortunate" to get the medical treatment that they did.

"I would like to thank Michele Lopes, director of Nursing, and also the consultant Dr Zink, who have really given them tremendous support," he said.

Read more: Berkeley tragedy: Grieving families in overnight vigil with remains of students before flight home

While the minister reported earlier that the two students injured in the Berkeley balcony tragedy are expected to make "a full recovery", it is understood that Jack's condition may not be as stable as previously thought.

Clodagh Cogley who was injured in a balcony fall in Berkeley.
Clodagh Cogley who was injured in a balcony fall in Berkeley.
Hannah Waters
Injured student Aoife Beary
Niall Murray
Sean Fahey

The minister said that the hospital accommodated the family and friends of the injured students.

He flew to San Francisco, California, yesterday to offer support at the request of the Taoiseach.

He met the families of the dead and injured at the special centre set up in Berkeley Police HQ to coordinate assistance since Tuesday before joining a procession of friends and relatives to the memorial shrine.

"I've rarely seen such an outpouring of sympathy and grief for those people who died in this tragic accident," the minister said at the press conference.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley
The remains of the damaged balcony are removed from the 4th-story apartment building in Berkeley. Photo: Reuters
Workmen examine the damage at the scene of the balcony collapse in Berkeley, California
Police hold up sheets as medical staff take away the bodies of the dead students at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley.
Stunned onlookers at the scene of the tragedy
Visitors lay flowers on a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California
Two grief-stricken Irish students, who say they knew the victims, look on as sheriff’s deputies move the body of a friend who died in the Berkeley balcony collapse.
Click to see a bigger version of the graphic

"There's huge universal support in Ireland - but also amongst the Irish diaspora all over the world."

The minister is expected to remain in California until at least Saturday.

Olivia Burke
Eimear Walsh
Niccolai Schuster
Lorcán Miller
Ashley Donohoe
Eoghan Culligan

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