Tributes have been paid to the Mayor of San Francisco, Cork’s sister city, following his sudden passing.
San Francisco’s first Asian-American mayor, Ed Lee, 65, died on Tuesday morning at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, California.
Sister cities for more than 30 years, San Francisco has deep economic, social and cultural links with Cork.
In 2013, Mayor Lee chose Cork City as his first international visit as mayor when he was invited to attend the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade as Grand Marshall.
Mayor Lee also visited the City in September 2017 as part of the UNESCO Learning Cities Conference.
During this three day visit around the city, he also stopped by St Mary’s on the Hill in Knocknaheeny Hollyhill to meet with pupils.
Lord Mayor of Cork Tony Fitzgerald has expressed his sadness at the news and extended his sympathy to Mayor Lee’s family.
“San Francisco has lost a great leader and champion; a man who always embodied the city’s values, beliefs and ambition,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Anyone who spent time with Mayor Lee walked away thinking what a fundamentally decent and genuine man he was and how he was always looking outwards, always thinking of others.”
“In the aftermath of Storm Ophelia, as San Francisco’s Napa Valley battled its own fires, he found time to write to me to let us know that he and the people of San Francisco were thinking of ‘our much-loved sister city of Cork’.”
“I wish to extend my sincere sympathy to his wife Anita, his family and friends and the people of San Francisco.”
Mayor Lee was a staunch supporter of San Francisco's sanctuary city policy toward immigrants, a position he reiterated during an interview with the Evening Echo during his September visit.
“I think the contributions of immigrant families is the story of the connection between Cork and San Francisco and because of that we will always be a sanctuary city,” Mayor Lee said.
"Sanctuary is not about criminals, sanctuary is about people and this is why the people of San Francisco and the people of Cork as well are so strong because we recognise a mutual history of migration and immigration and why people have come both ways.”
Cork City Council Chief Executive Ann Doherty described Mayor Lee as a true friend of Cork.
“It is with profound shock and sadness that we learnt of the passing of Mayor Ed Lee. He was a true friend to Cork who was always working to further our relationship across economic development, technology, food, education, government and through our cultural offerings.”
Mr Lee was appointed mayor in 2011, replacing Gavin Newsom, who was elected the state's lieutenant governor. He then went on to win a four-year term in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015.
Mr Lee was an advocate for the poor but detractors claimed he catered too much to Silicon Valley, citing his brokering of a tax break in 2011 to benefit Twitter as part of a remake of the city centre.
Housing prices have surged in San Francisco with modest homes now topping $1.5 million.