Ross visit called off after disaster
Transport Minister Shane Ross cancelled his planned two day visit to Kerry following the tragic coast guard helicopter crash that has claimed at least one life.
Coast Guard Sikorski helicopter 'Rescue 116' crashed six miles off the coast of Mayo at around 1am on Monday morning as it assisted another Coast Guard rescue helicopter in a medical evacuation rescue operation.
Renowned pilot Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was confirmed killed in the crash. Her body has been recovered but her three colleagues remained missing, feared dead, as The Kerryman went to press on Tuesday evening.
Transport Minister Shane Ross was due to start a two day visit to Kerry on Tuesday but this was cancelled in the wake of the tragedy.
Minister Ross was en route to Kerry when news broke that Captain Fitzgerald had lost her life in the tragic accident.
It is understood that Captain Fitzpatrick was a close friend of Minister Ross' wife - former broadcaster Ruth Buchanan - and the Ross family.
While in Kerry Minister Ross had been due to hold meetings with Vintners' Federation members in Listowel and with representatives of the business community in Tralee.
The meeting with the vintners in Listowel had been arranged by the Healy-Rae family.
He was also to visit his Department's offices in Killarney and to view the Ballvourney to Macroom section of the Kerry Cork road with Fine Gael Kerry TD Brendan Griffin.
It is expected that Minister Ross' Kerry visit will be rescheduled in the near future and it is hoped he will be able to come to the county in April or May.