The New York Times apologizes for the article regarding the Berkeley balcony collapse which was branded as "a disgrace" by Irish government minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
Spokesperson for the NY Times, Eileen Murphy, said that the article in question was “intended to explain in greater detail why these young Irish students were in the US”.
“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 continued.
“It was never our intention to blame the victims and we apologize if the piece left that impression. We will continue to cover this story and report on the young people who lost their lives.”
Minister for Equality, Ó Ríordáin, however, has shown further anger at the paper's apology attempts, branding it "offensive" and stating that "It's clearly futile appealing to your better nature."
The Minister continued to commend the young people of Ireland, citing the same-sex marriage referendum as a recent display of their achievements.
We are so proud of our young people, at home and abroad. They made history for us last month & we have lost so much this week. #Berkeley— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD (@AodhanORiordain) June 17, 2015
Ó Ríordáin had previously slammed The New York Times for their coverage of the death of six Irish students in the balcony collapse in Berkeley California.
The Minister Equality tweeted that the coverage of the story is “A disgrace.” He also issued a statement demanding the article be withdrawn.
"The nature and tone of the article is a disgrace … newspaper editors need to realise how sensitive this issue is."
The Times wrote that the J-1 visa that the students were on had become “an embarrassment for Ireland.”
“The work-visa program that allowed for the exchanges has in recent years become not just a source of aspiration, but also a source of embarrassment for Ireland, marked by a series of high-profile episodes involving drunken partying and the wrecking of apartments in places like San Francisco and Santa Barbara.”
The Times stated that “The program has been a source of discomfort. James Howard, 24, who went to San Diego in 2011, said it was basically “party central.”
“There were 18 of us sharing a two-bedroom apartment, and the hundreds of Irish students around us were in a similar situation,” Mr. Howard said.
“It was my first time away on my own for any length of time. I’m glad I did it, but once was enough,” he said.
The Times also quoted an Irish Voice/Irish Central column on the wrecking of an apartment in San Francisco last year.
“Cahir O’Doherty, the arts and culture editor of The Irish Voice, wrote a column in 2014 expressing distress at “the callous destruction unleashed by these loaded Irish students” of a house rented in the Sunset District of San Francisco.
“If you know the city you’ll know Sunset is one of the more desirable locations in which to buy a home,” he wrote. “So those J-1 students actually caught a big break by being rented to in the first place. Nice payback, guys.”
“They ripped chandeliers from the ceilings, they broke doors and they smashed windows; they even punched holes in the walls,” he wrote. “Then they abandoned the place without a heads-up or a word of apology.”
The Times said the program as evidenced by Facebook on the The Santa Barbara/Isla Vista Facebook page set up by the Irish students” offers “a flavor of the work-hard, party-hard lifestyle. Call-outs for car-pooling and accommodations are interspersed with requests for house party sites. Some bars home in on the feel-good, free-spending atmosphere, offering special promotions to the Irish students.”
The paper has come in for fierce criticism on Twitter from Irish in Ireland and abroad.