US Ambassador marks anniversary of 'unimaginable tragedy' in Berkeley

Five Irish students and an Irish-American lost their lives in the balcony collapse on June 16th 2015

berkeley, us, ambassador, california, US, kevin o'malley, ireland

Berkeley victims Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Olivia Burke, Lorcan Miller, Ashley Donohoe and Niccolai Schuster

The US Ambassador to Ireland has marked the first anniversary of the 'unimaginable tragedy' in Berkeley, California.

Five Irish students and an Irish-American lost their lives, while seven others were injured, when an apartment balcony collapsed during a 21st birthday party on June 16th last year.

Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcán Miller and Eimear Walsh were all aged 21 and from Dublin. Ashley Donohoe, 22, was Olivia's cousin and from California.

A remembrance ceremony was held at the US Embassy in Ballsbridge today.

A memorial plaque was unveiled and an apple tree planted in the front courtyard as a 'living tribute' to those who died.

Ambassador Kevin O'Malley said: "On the first anniversary of the unimaginable tragedy that unfolded in Berkeley, California on June 16 last year and affected all of Irish society, the people of the United States extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families, friends, and loved ones of the students who lost their lives or were injured. 

"We also hold in our thoughts and prayers the young people who are still recovering from their injuries; that they may continue to heal with the love and support of family and friends here and in the United States. The remarkable resilience they have displayed sends a powerful reminder to the world of the friendship between our people and of our capacity to unite in times of adversity."

He added that he hopes "the outpouring of love and support from the American people in the aftermath of this tragedy has provided some comfort and brought us closer together."