The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., presented the first Certificate of Irish Heritage to the family of Joseph (Joe) Hunter, a New York Fireman, who lost his life in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.
The ceremony took place in the Firehouse of Squad 288 in Maspeth, Queens, before a group that included the Hunter family, colleagues from Squad 288, and the Chief of the Fire Department of New York Edward S. Kilduff.
In presenting the Certificate to Joe’s mother Bridget, the Tánaiste recalled the long links between Irish emigrants and the emergency services, particularly the Fire Service;
“Generations of Irish have been proud and privileged to serve with New York’s finest – in the Fire Department, the NYPD, and other emergency services. They are a part of the special Irish contribution to this great country and city.”
“We in Ireland felt the pain and loss of all Americans in the obscenity of 9/11 but we felt a particular pain in our hearts for those brave men and women of Irish heritage who lost their lives on that day.”
“The collective efforts of the Irish diaspora across the globe have ensured the continued respect and admiration in which Irish people and our culture are held worldwide.”
“Engagement with the global Irish community is central to government policy and we are encouraging and facilitating people in giving expression to their Irish ancestry. The Certificate of Irish Heritage will allow us to maintain these strong ties, both now and in the future. ”
Speaking after receiving the Certificate, Ms Hunter said that:
“Joseph was very proud of his Irish roots and in continuing the brave and selfless tradition of service given by the Irish to the FDNY. He would have been very honoured to receive the first Certificate.”