Berkeley priest warns media that families need privacy ahead of anniversary of balcony tragedy

One year on, Fr Brendan McBride said that the families need space "just to absorb and to deal with it"

Berkeley priest warns media that families need privacy ahead of anniversary of balcony tragedy

Image: Richard Chambers

The priest who supported the families of the victims of the Berkeley balcony disaster has appealed for them to be given privacy as the tragedy's first anniversary approaches.

Speaking to the Pat Kenny Show, Fr Brendan McBride of the Irish Pastoral Immigration Centre said that he is in regular contact with the families and the survivors of the disaster, and the days leading up to the first anniversary on June 16th will be emotional for them. 

"We do keep contact but around the anniversary, I think they need space. The need a little bit of privacy. They need a bit of their own time just to absorb and to deal with it. We’ll contact them later in the summer but for now, we just give them space.”

Fr Brendan McBride made the comments ahead of a J1 orientation course hosted by the IPIC for this year's contingent of Irish students in Berkeley. 

Meanwhile, Philip Grant, the Consul General in San Francisco, says the memory of the disaster is "still raw" for all of the diplomats involved in the aftermath.

"It's very hard to try to express how close you become in a situation like that to the individuals and the families concerned. You have a responsibility of care in this job to Irish nationals. That responsibility is even deeper in the case of the J1 students. It's not quite that you act in loco parentis but you're there," he said. 

"It's still raw," Grant added. "It's still something that the shock and the sadness of it... Is it something you think about every day? Yes it is. Did it have a big impact on the staff of the consulate? Yes it has."

You can hear the full report below: