Berkeley balcony collapse - Mary McAleese responds with letter to The New York Times
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Berkeley balcony collapse - Mary McAleese responds with letter to The New York Times

FORMER President of Ireland Mary McAleese has written a letter to The New York Times, condemning their article on J1 students from yesterday.

Mrs McAleese says the paper should be “hanging its head in shame” for what she describes as “lazy tabloid” stereotyping of the Irish people.

The American newspaper published the article as part of its coverage of the Berkeley tragedy which claimed the lives of six young people - five of them were J1 visa students from Dublin.

In the article published on The New York Times’ website yesterday, J1 students were called “a source of embarrassment to Ireland”, causing widespread criticism.

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Read Mrs McAleese’s letter in full below

Today in Ireland we are hanging our heads in shock and sorrow at the needless deaths of six of our brightest and best young adults and the serious injuries to others.

Today the New York Times should be hanging its head in shame at how outrageously and without the remotest evidence it has rushed to judgment on those deaths.

I was a J-1 visa student in California over forty years ago.

Tens of thousands of Irish J-1 students have spent happy summers there over the years since.

By far the vast majority have been a credit to Ireland and only the very tiniest minority have not.

Yet within hours of the most appalling tragedy in the history of the J-1 visa program, when the one salient fact to speak for itself is the ludicrous collapse of a fourth floor balcony in a relatively new building, New York Times journalists reached for the lazy tabloid stereotype and heaped deliberate injustice on top of the most awful grief.

Shame on you.

Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, 1997-2011; J-1 visa student in San Francisco summer of 1971