Minister Jimmy Deenihan heads to US 'as a show of solidarity'
Minister for Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan will travel to San Francisco this morning "as a show of solidarity" on behalf of the Government, following the deaths of six students in Berkeley.
The Tricolour yesterday flew at half-mast on all public buildings as a mark of respect to the tragic victims.
Dail Eireann also adjourned for an hour to honour the dead and injured.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny informed the Dail of Mr Deenihan's intention to travel to the US.
Mr Kenny 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 added.
The Taoiseach stressed that Minister Deenihan's role will 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 Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was not a day to be doing the ordinary business of politics.
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 the Department of Foreign Affairs team met with family members of the victims at Dublin Airport yesterday morning as they departed for California to begin the process of repatriating the bodies home to Ireland.
Mr Kenny said department officials have now "been in touch" with all the families and that a liaison officer had been assigned to help them with the journey ahead.
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 offices are also on standby to travel to the west coast if the need arises.
Tanaiste Joan Burton said "words wash away like water" in such circumstances.
However, she said it brings everyone together to mourn the loss of "these wonderful and beautiful people".