President thanks San José mayor for care for Berkeley survivors

Michael D Higgins says generosity ‘really moved everyone in Ireland very deeply’

President Michael D Higgins expressed gratitude to the mayor of San José for the care shown to the survivors of the Berkeley balcony collapse. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

President Michael D Higgins expressed gratitude to the mayor of San José for the care shown to the survivors of the Berkeley balcony collapse. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

President Michael D Higgins thanked the mayor of San José in California for the care shown to the survivors of the Berkeley balcony collapse and their families.

Four of the seven students injured in the June 16th tragedy were treated in the Santa Clara Valley Medical Centre in San José in the months after the accident.

Speaking on a visit to the city on his eight-day US trip, Mr Higgins expressed his gratitude to Mayor Sam Liccardo for “the speed, the professionalism, the generosity and the care that was offered” to the Berkeley families. 

“It really moved everyone in Ireland very deeply,” he told the mayor at a reception in San José City Hall late on Tuesday afternoon.

Dublin students Clodagh Cogley, Aoife Beary, Hannah Waters and Niall Murray were moved from San Francisco Bay Area hospitals to Santa Clara in the weeks after the accident. The last of the four returned to Ireland last month.

For the four students to be able to be treated together in the one spot was “so, so important” for them and their families, Mr Higgins said.

San José and Dublin have one of the longest sister city relationships of any Irish-American city connection, stretching back 30 years. 

The cities plan to mark the long relationship by hosting a summit of Irish-American sister cities and counties in Ireland next April.

The President spoke warmly of the link between San José and Dublin.

“It has enabled people to go outside of their boundaries and to be able to see the importance of what we share together,” said Mr Higgins at the end of his day-long visit to Silicon Valley.

Before his remarks at the city hall, the President and Mrs Sabina Higgins viewed an exhibition of photographs of the residents of the Pearse House social housing complex in Dublin’s south inner city.

The exhibition by Dublin photographic artist Jeanette Lowe is on display in San José City Hall for several months.

Her grandmother raised 13 children in one of the flats, one of whom emigrated to California to become a professor at Stanford University.

Also in attendance at the San José reception was Limerick man John Hartnett, the founder of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, which promotes the technology connections between Ireland and Silicon Valley. 

He has recently been involved in twinning Limerick with Santa Clara, a relationship he is using to attract more US companies to his home town.

Mr Hartnett called the decision of online taxi service Uber to set up a base in Limerick with the creation of 150 jobs the start of a “new wave” for the city.

“Limerick is on the radar screen. There will be more that we are involved with. They are hearing about Limerick over here,” he said.

“These sister-city relationships are symbolic and cultural in nature but at the same time they create a great platform to drive the relationship from a business and technology perspective.”