Berkeley: $150,000 donated to support students and families

Department of Foreign Affairs, Colleges, Usit offering assistance and counselling

More than $150,000 (€132,000) has been donated to groups providing assistance to those affected by the Berkeley tragedy.

The American Ireland Fund donated $100,000 (€88,000) while "Irish J1 Berkeley Tragedy Fund" on had collected more than $50,000 (€44,000) by Thursday afternoon.

The page stated the funds are being raised for the students and their families affected by the tragedy in Berkeley where six died and seven were injured after a fourth floor balcony collapsed during a 21st birthday party.

The Irish American Fund said the incident had a profound affect on the Irish at home and abroad.


“The task of meeting the needs of the families and friends of the bereaved and injured is urgent. In this regard, The American Ireland Fund announced this morning that it will make a donation of $100,000 to support those who are providing care and assistance on the ground, in particular the San Francisco Irish Pastoral Centre.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs, having activated its consular crisis centre on Tuesday, continued to offer support to those affected by the tragedy. The phone number for the emergency consular response team is +353 (0)1 418 0200.

The United States ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley said he hoped J1 students would take comfort in “unwavering” US support for Ireland during this time.

“This is a devastating experience for everyone involved,” he said in a letter addressed to J1 students.

“Even as we all grieve this terrible loss, we here at the U.S. Embassy would encourage you to remain strong, and draw upon the deep well of strength that the Irish are known for around the world.

“There will be times in your life where you’re challenged, when tragedy strikes and you’re left to pick up the pieces. In these moments, it becomes even more important to join together with friends and find strength in supporting one another.”

Usit, the organisation that arranges J1 work visas for students, listed its Irish helpline as 01 602 1630.

It also said it has set up a crisis counselling service in Berkeley. Usit said: In partnership with our US sponsor CIEE and the University of California Berkeley, we have put in place counselling and psychological services: Counselors are available to meet with students experiencing trauma or shock at the following location:

Berkeley City Hall

1900 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA 94704

Drop In hours are Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm

After Hours Counseling Line at (855) 817-5667

University College Dublin president Andrew Deeks issued a statement expressing heartbreak at the news from Berkeley.

"We are opening an online book of condolences on our website where students and others are invited to share their sympathies. We have also made our counselling and student support services available to students in San Francisco and in Dublin," he said.

Mr Deeks added: “We have been in touch with colleagues in University of California Berkeley and they have offered to place their counselling services at the disposal of the Irish students in the area.”

Earlier on Thursday, President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, signed a book of condonlence opened to the public at the Mansion House in Dublin.

Books of condolence will be opened and special prayers will be said all day at Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral on Saturday to remember those who died or were injured in Berkeley.

The books will open on Saturday morning and the victims will be remembered at a service beginning at 3pm before a special Mass to be celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Dublin Archdiocese said.

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin is an Irish Times journalist