Ireland blasts New York Times for apparently blaming victims for US balcony collapse

By John Glenday | Reporter

June 18, 2015 | 2 min read

The New York Times has been forced to apologise for its coverage of a Californian balcony collapse, in which five Irish citizens were killed, after using the incident to mount an attack on the thousands of Irish citizens who travel to America on a work visa programme.

Describing the programme as a ‘source of aspiration, but also a source of embarrassment for Ireland’ the piece drew instant condemnation from across the pond where many people are still reeling from the loss of life, a toll which also included one person with dual Irish/US nationality.

Amidst the furore NYT spokesperson Eileen Murphy was forced to say: ““It was never our intention to blame the victims and we apologize if the piece left that impression.

“We understand and agree that some of the language in the piece could be interpreted as insensitive, particularly in such close proximity to this tragedy.”

Murphy said the article had ‘intended to explain in greater detail why these young Irish students were in the US’ but conceded that the reporters had got it wrong on this occasion.

In a public letter to the NYT Anne Anderson, Ireland’s ambassador to the US, 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.”

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