Proud day for Irish American family as first Certificate of Irish Heritage given to fireman who died in 9/11 attacks
THE MOTHER of a New York fireman killed in the 9/11 terror attacks said he was very proud of his Irish roots after the family was presented with the first Certificate of Irish Heritage.
Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore awarded the certificate yesterday to Joseph Hunter's family in the firehouse of Squad 288 in Queens, New York City.
Mr Gilmore recalled the long links between Irish emigrants and the emergency services, particularly the fire service.
"Generations of Irish have been proud and privileged to serve with New York's finest - in the Fire Department, the NYPD and other emergency services," the Tanaiste said.
"They are a part of the special Irish contribution to this great country and city.
"We in Ireland felt the pain and loss of all Americans in the obscenity of 9/11 but we felt a particular pain in our hearts for those brave men and women of Irish heritage who lost their lives on that day."
The Certificate of Irish Heritage was first put forward at the Global Irish Economic Forum in September 2009, and is available to those who are part of the Irish diaspora, but not eligible for citizenship.
Fire officers from Squad 288 and New York Fire Department chief Edward S Kilduff were present at the ceremony.
Mr Hunter's mother Bridget said: "Joseph was very proud of his Irish roots and in continuing the brave and selfless tradition of service given by the Irish to the FDNY.
"He would have been very honoured to receive the first certificate."
The Tanaiste said applications for the certificate of heritage can be submitted online from the end of this month.