The Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson has written a public letter to the New York Times, criticising their article about the Berkeley tragedy as insensitive and inaccurate.
The article insinuated that the J1 visa program had become an ‘embarrassment’ for Ireland due to ‘drunken partying’.
The Ambassador denied that this was the case, and defended J1 students and the contribution they make both to the US and to Ireland.
“No one yet knows what caused the collapse of the fourth-floor balcony; the matter is under urgent investigation by structural engineers,” the Ambassador wrote.
“The implication of your article – that the behaviour of the students was in some way a factor in the collapse – has caused deep offence.”
She stated that the J1 visa programme was absolutely not a “a source of embarrassment for Ireland”.
“On the contrary, we are fully supportive of this programme and we know that it brings enormous mutual benefit. Some of our best and brightest young people participate; they come for a summer in the US on the threshold of their adult lives, and take back experiences and memories that establish life-long bonds,” Ms Anderson said.
“And they make a real contribution here; one of the messages of condolence we received yesterday put it simply: “We welcome their energy and joy”.