Deenihan travels to Berkeley to show solidarity
Minister for Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan will this morning depart from Dublin and travel to the United States "as a show of solidarity" on behalf of the Government, following the deaths of six students in Berkeley, California.
The Tricolour flew yesterday at half-mast on all public buildings, while the Dáil adjourned for an hour as a mark of respect to the victims.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny informed the Dáil of Mr Deenihan's intention to travel to San Francisco.
He said the tragedy had resonated with every family, and parents especially, across Ireland.
"When you look at the newspapers this morning, don't you see the photographs of your own children?" Mr Kenny said.
He stressed that Mr Deenihan's role would not in any way take away from the excellent work done by the Irish diplomats working in California in the wake of the tragedy.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said it was not a day to be doing the ordinary business of politics.
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He praised the work of Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, and Ireland's consul in California, Philip Grant, and his colleagues from the Foreign Affairs Department.
"It's truly a harrowing occasion and truly a nightmare for any family," Mr Martin said.
The tributes came as Department of Foreign Affairs teams met family members of the victims at Dublin Airport yesteday morning as they departed for California to begin the process of repatriating the bodies home to Ireland.
Mr Kenny said the department had "been in touch" with all the families.
Two additional staff members have been sent to San Francisco, and there are staff at the consulate in Boston and New York for families travelling through those cities.
The New York and Boston consul offices are also on standby to travel to the West Coast if the need arises.
Mr Kenny confirmed that grief counsellors would be available at Berkeley City Hall, where an incident centre has been set up.
Tánaiste Joan Burton said "words wash away like water" in such circumstances.
However, Ms Burton said that the tragedy would bring everyone together to mourn the loss of "these wonderful and beautiful people".