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Our nation stands united in sorrow

Ireland mourns this week as five of the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse are brought home to their native land for a final farewell.

All six young people who lost their lives in California had so much to live for and had shown so much promise during their short lives. Lives that have been so cruelly ended.

The country has opened its arms to the grieving families.

The hearts of the nation are with them in this dark and sombre time.

The final farewell for Eimear, Lorcan, Olivia, Eoghan, Ashley and Niccolai is so hard for their nearest and dearest.

Those who attend the funerals will hope that their presence will offer some comfort. Yet far beyond the crowded churches in the coming days, there are many more people who never knew the victims or their families but they will also be holding them in their thoughts and prayers.

May they rest in peace.