herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Over €210k raised so far to assist family, friends and classmates of Berkeley victims

charity

People react during a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley
People react during a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley

More than €210,000 has been raised to help the families of the six Irish students who died in the Berkeley tragedy.

Donation accounts have been set up to help the families repatriate their loved ones, as well as aid the support groups working with relatives and friends of the students.

The American Ireland Fund announced it will donate $100,000 "to support those who are providing care and assistance on the ground, in particular the San Francisco Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre (IIPC)".

It comes as an official account established by the Pastoral Centre has raised more than $126,000 (€111,347) in less than 36 hours.

contributed

The gofundme account, called 'Irish J1 Berkeley Tragedy Fund', was set up by Celine Kennelly of the IIPC on the day of the tragedy.

Hundreds of people from the US and Ireland, as well as other countries have so far contributed to the much-needed fund.

The tax-deductible donations raised will be used to "support and assist the immediate needs of the families and students in Berkeley".

A separate donation account set up by friends of one of the students who died in the Berkeley tragedy has seen over $9,300 (€8,200) raised in 24 hours. Friends of Olivia Burke (21) who lost her life in the Berkeley tragedy, are hoping to raise enough funds to return to Ireland to attend her funeral.

Clementine Keane, who went to Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology along with Ms Burke, said the group "desperately want to fly home to say our last goodbyes to our beautiful friend".

"As we are all college students we are struggling financially, and would really appreciate any donation people could spare.

"I, Clementine Keane was one of Olivia's best friends, and I can't bear the thought that some of her close friends would miss her funeral in Dublin due to financial status," she said.

"Please help us get back to Dublin to say our final goodbyes," she added.

Commemoration ceremonies were held in the United States and across Ireland as people gathered to remember the six students who died.

More than 1,000 J1 students, relatives and friends gathered in Berkeley for candlelight vigils and services on Wednesday night, with prayers being said for the dead and the injured.

Irish Consul General in San Fransisco Philip Grant remarked on the event and spoke of how other Irish students have rallied around the families.

"An enormously moving vigil was organised by the J1 students last night.

"There's no hierarchy here for the pain and suffering, It's universal, these are all our families at the moment, these are all our children," he said.

"Parents have come out here very worried about the state they might find their children in, have been reassured to find that there's that support, that solidarity is there.

"They've been amazing in the things they've done in keeping rotas going in hospitals, keeping everybody connected to everybody else, he added.

"From the word go, when this happened, they did everything that has allowed us to get everything done so smoothly and to help the families," he said.

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