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Minister Flanagan welcomes new California building regulations following Berkeley balcony collapse

Consular, Ireland, Irish abroad, Minister Charles Flanagan, MoS Joe McHugh, Press Releases, North America, 2016

Minister Flanagan commends the advocacy of those affected by the Berkeley balcony collapse following legal changes in California to prevent future tragedies

- Minister of State McHugh attended the signing ceremony

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D., has welcomed today's adoption of a new law by the US State of California aimed at preventing tragedies such as the balcony collapse which killed six Irish students and seriously injured seven others in Berkeley in June 2015.

Speaking following the signing into law of the measures by the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, Minister Flanagan said:

"The adoption of this new law is a testament to the tireless advocacy of those directly affected by the horrific Berkeley balcony collapse which resulted in the deaths and injuries of a number of Irish students over a year ago.

“This change to the law, which is aimed at preventing future accidents by improving standards, would not have been possible without the pressure which they brought to bear and the brave testimony which they gave in the course of the lengthy legislative process.

"Their tireless efforts and engagement - led by Jackie Donohoe and assisted by the Irish Consulate in San Francisco - made a vital difference in countering opposition and ensuring the unanimous support of both houses of the California State legislature.

"I want to thank California's public representatives - especially Senators Jerry Hill and Lonnie Hancock who sponsored the Bill, and the members of the state legislature's Irish Caucus - who the families and I met when they visited Ireland in July - for their support. I also want to thank Governor Brown for signing the Bill into law without delay.

"This legislation is but one step in a broader process which the Irish government hopes will ensure that no other family has to endure the loss and injury suffered by our students, their families and friends in Berkeley a year ago.

"The support and friendship which the families affected continue to receive from the people of California, especially its strong Irish community, is exceptional. It is my hope that where California leads in improved standards to protect lives, other states and countries will follow."

Minister of State McHugh attended the signing event. He stated:

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those involved in the signing of this very important Bill, which is aimed at ensuring more robust building standards in an effort to ensure that the tragic balcony collapse which occurred last year will never happen again. In particular, I deeply commend the selfless courage of the families of those injured or those who lost lives in the passionate pursuit of this outcome today. I would also like to thank Governor Brown and Senators Hill and Lancock for all their work in ensuring that this important piece of legislation is now in place.”

ENDS
Press Office
15 September 2016

Note for editors:

SB 465 is a bill adopted by the Californian legislature as a first step toward stronger building standards, mandatory inspections and standardised training for building inspectors in regard to balconies and related structures. It is also a first step in gathering information on prior settlements involving negligence on the part of contractors and builders.

Jackie Donohoe is the US based mother of Ashley Donohoe who, along with her cousin Olivia Burke was killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. The others who died were Eoghan Culligan, Lórcán Miller, Niccolai Schuster, and Eimear Walsh. The seven students seriously injured were Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Sean Fahy, Conor Flynn, Jack Halpin, Niall Murray and Hannah Waters.