Sunday 25 September 2016

Taoiseach Enda Kenny intends to meet with families of Berkeley tragedy students in coming days

Sam Griffin and Daniel McConnell, Group Political Correspondent

Published 19/06/2015 | 10:24

Taoiseach Enda Kenny signs the book of condolence for the Berkeley tragedy victims at Mansion House today. Photo: Twitter/@merrionstreet
Taoiseach Enda Kenny signs the book of condolence for the Berkeley tragedy victims at Mansion House today. Photo: Twitter/@merrionstreet
Taoiseach Enda Kenny signs the book of condolence for the Berkeley tragedy victims at Mansion House today. Photo: Twitter/@merrionstreet

An Taoiseach has said the Berkeley tragedy is "the worst thing that anyone can ever imagine".

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Enda Kenny was speaking after he signed the book of condolences in the Mansion House for the six victims of Tuesday's accident.

He said he was thinking of Cork student Karen Buckley who died in tragic circumstances in Scotland earlier this year having just met with the Scottish First Minister.

Mr Kennny said: "This is the worse thing that anyone can ever imagine. I just had Nicola Sturgeon down in Government Buildings and I think of Karen Buckley - a young woman who was taken away through othet unfortunate circumstances. This is a multiple of that. It's a loss to our country.

He added he was proud of the way Irish people had rallied to support the affected families.

"Isn't this about family, about community, about society? We've always had this in Ireland people understand adversity, we understand death, we understand people being taken away.  It's so tragic, so unfortunate and so sad."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny signs the book of condolence for the Berkeley tragedy victims at Mansion House today. Photo: Twitter/@merrionstreet
Taoiseach Enda Kenny signs the book of condolence for the Berkeley tragedy victims at Mansion House today. Photo: Twitter/@merrionstreet

Mr Kenny was greeted by Lord Mayor Christy Burke when he arrived at Mansion House today.

The book of condolences is open to the public in the Mansion House on Dawson Street today until 4pm.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he intends meeting with the families of the Berkeley tragedy in the coming days, but said it is still unclear as to when the bodies will be brought home.

"First of all, may I say that I have accepted on behalf of the people the condolences and sympathy of everyone on the platform. It is unclear at the moment as to when the remains of the young students will be brought home. Clearly there is a issue there with the coroner releasing the remains to the families," he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny signing a book of condolence at the Mansion House following the deaths of the young Irish students in the Berkeley tragedy. Also included is Lord Mayor Christy Burke. Photo: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Enda Kenny signing a book of condolence at the Mansion House following the deaths of the young Irish students in the Berkeley tragedy. Also included is Lord Mayor Christy Burke. Photo: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Enda Kenny who signed the book of condolence at the Mansion House following the deaths of the young Irish students in the Berkeley tragedy. Photo: Mark Condren

Speaking at Dublin Castle where he was hosting a British-Irish Council meeting, Mr Kenny said that he was unsure of plans for their return, and did say that a special service close to Leinster House is planned for next week.

"We are also to have an ecumenical service somewhere close to the Dail, and I wouldn't want that to interfere with the funerals if they were on at that time. Yes, it is my hope to meet with the families whenever it is appropriate. But we have to make arrangements as to the sequence of things. But it is such a sad time for young people but also for the country," Mr Kenny added.

Attending the British-Irish Council Summit at Dublin Castle was First Minister of Scotland Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Attending the British-Irish Council Summit at Dublin Castle was First Minister of Scotland Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The Taoiseach also said that all leaders at the meeting expressed their collective sympathies and condolence in the wake of the Berkeley tragedy.

At the meeting, Scottish Nationalist Party leader Nicola Sturgeon paid a warm tribute to the six students who lost their lives in Berkeley last Tuesday.

Others present included the North's First and Deputy First ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, as well as the North's Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers.

Mr McGuinness in his contribution said the Berkeley tragedy is one that is felt throughout the entire Island of Ireland.

He described the tragedy as "heart breaking".

Mr Kenny also was pressed on the escalating Greek crisis ahead of Monday's emergency leaders' summit, saying that time is running out for the embattled country.

Mr Kenny said there is a longstanding support for Greece at EU Council level but warend it is getting "very close to real crisis time".

"We are getting closer to having to adopt a Plan B for Greece, and I am not sure where things are going," he told reporters.

Mr Kenny said he and Finance Minister Michael Noonan are taking advice from the Central Bank and the NTMA as to the impact of a Greek default on October's Budget.

In relation to Northern Ireland, Mr Robinson says there is no future for the Northern Assembly unless the Stormont agreement is implemented Sitting beside Mr Robinson on the platform, Mr McGuinness said he too wants to see the Stormont House agreement implemented, but said difficulties remain. He lashed out at the Tory-led welfare cuts in the North over the past four years.

Throughout the event, the body language between Mr McGuinness and Mr Robinson wasn't exactly warm.

Mr McGuinness says he was delighted to see Robinson back at work, but Mr Robinson made no acknowledgement of his comments, staring straight ahead.

Mr McGuinness also distanced himself from reports that he is about to resign over the Stormont House agreement impasse.

He was pressed several times as to his future intention but would not address the speculation over his future.

Mr McGuinness did say that any moves to withdraw welfare functions from Stormont by London would be unacceptable.

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