Friday 21 October 2016

Berkeley priest to get Presidential award for his work after accident

Workmen examine the damage at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California
Workmen examine the damage at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California
Fr McBride of San Francisco

A priest who helped the family and friends of the victims of the Berkeley balcony tragedy is being honoured by President Michael D Higgins and the Government.

Fr Brendan McBride - who is based in San Francisco - is the founder of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Centre in the Californian city, close to where the six Irish students were killed earlier this summer.

The Donegal native has been named by the Department of Foreign Affairs as one of the 10 recipients of this year's Presidential Distinguished Service Awards.

He is being honoured for committing "his life's work to serving the Irish community through advocacy and the provision of support services", and his leading efforts in the US's immigration reform policy.

Minister Charlie Flanagan's office also acknowledged the "central role" Fr McBride played in providing support to those involved in the accident in Berkeley earlier this summer. He visited the three hospitals where the survivors were treated and provided support for their devastated families and friends.

He has been in San Francisco since 1996 and is the President of the Irish Apostolate in the US.

The other recipients also include awardees from Peru and Kenya.

They are all being honoured for how they served Ireland with "distinction" and for the way they "actively contributed to Ireland in a sustained manner".


Actor Gabriel Byrne, an Irish cultural ambassador, is being honoured for his "sterling service" in the role, particularly for his support of the Irish Arts Centre in New York.

The other recipients include well-known businessman Tom Moran, Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa and Irish missionary in Kenya Dr Miriam Duggan.

British solicitor Gareth Peirce is also being recognised for her work as a human rights activist and her significant contribution to the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Ms Peirce has worked on a number of high-profile cases, including the those of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six.

Minister Flanagan said we "owe a huge debt of gratitude" to the recipients and described them as "remarkable people".

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