Sunday 25 June 2017

Families need to know what happened to Rescue 116 to bring closure, Taoiseach says

Taoiseach Enda Kenny chats with members of the Coast Guard during a visit to Blacksod in Co Mayo during the search and recovery of Rescue 116.
Pic Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny chats with members of the Coast Guard during a visit to Blacksod in Co Mayo during the search and recovery of Rescue 116. Pic Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Wearing Blue and White Striped Hat) chats with members of the Naval Service during a visit to Blacksod in Co Mayo during the seach and recovery of Rescue 116. Pic Steve Humphreys
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said the families of the crew of Rescue 116 need to know what happened to the helicopter, to bring closure to the tragedy.

Mr Kenny was speaking as he visited Blacksod, Co Mayo, where he met with rescue workers from across the agencies involved in the search for the downed Coast Guard aircraft.

In the morning, he visited the local community hall, where he had tea and sat and talked with volunteers and members of the local community.

He then boarded a RIB to the Irish Naval vessel LÉ Eithne, which has been involved in the search since the helicopter went down early last week.  

Mr Kenny spent a number of hours on the ship and spoke afterwards to the media, where he commended the work being done by rescue crews.

He spoke about the importance of discovering what happened happened to the aircraft.

"I would like to say that what we need to find out here, is what happened, and there are four families involved in this and they need to know, obviously to bring closure to this.

"But also in respect of the service itself, and the facilities that are provided, to find out the actual facts of how this tragedy occurred," he said.

It is understood Mr Kenny did not meet with the families, in accordance with their wishes at the time.

The Taoiseach thanked everyone who has been involved in the retrieval operation and spoke about the difficulties the weather was presenting.

It is understood it may be the end of this week before dive teams can enter the water and begin the work to lift the wreckage of the helicopter.

"I wanted to take the time to come down here, to a part of the country that I know very well, for the ongoing search.

"I've had a full briefing on board the LÉ Eithne and I have to commend the absolute cooperation that there is between the agencies," he said.

Mr Kenny pointed out the operation was led by the Irish Coast Guard and involved the Naval Service, the gardaí, the Civil Defence, Lifeboat crews from Ballyglass, and Achill, and many volunteers.

He praised the local fishermen in particular, who have provided "really valuable, fundamental information" about both the currents and the difficulties and the challenges of Blackrock.

"The weather is not conducive to sending down divers and I'm informed that the next window is hopefully next Thursday or towards the weekend," Mr Kenny said.

"I cannot commend highly enough the extent of cooperation that the local community have shown here and that's been exemplified now by the professional services," he added.

Mr Kenny said "hopefully by the weekend," there'll more clear information about what happened.

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