Clare Civil Defence ready to assist in Rescue 116 search

Clare Civil Defence ready to assist in Rescue 116 search


The operation is being coordinated from the pier at Blacksod – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

Members of Clare Civil Defence have been on standby to assist in the multi-agency search operation following the loss of Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116.

The team had been expected to travel to Blacksod Co Mayo this week but following confirmation that the wreckage of the missing helicopter has been located, volunteers have been stood down but remain available to travel if required. Weather conditions in the have also been hampering operations.

Local Irish Coast Guard and Civil Defence teams have been involved in shoreline searches for any remaining debris from the Sikorsky S92A helicopter that might wash up.

Volunteers attached to Clare Civil Defence’s Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) unit have been ready to travel to the area and use their drones as part of the operation.

Rescue 116, based at Dublin Airport, had been sent to assist their Sligo colleagues when Rescue 118 was requested to airlift an injured fisherman from a trawler off the Mayo coast.

As Rescue 116 was making its way to the helicopter landing pad at Blacksod Lighthouse to refuel at around 12.45am on March 14th, communications and radar contact were lost.

A major search operation was launched and the body of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was located within hours. Dara’s colleagues Mark Duffy, Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby are still missing but rescuers are hopeful they will be found within the wreckage.

The Irish Lights Vessel ILV Granuaile is being used as the main platform to locate and recover the wreckage assisted by the Irish Naval Service ship LÉ Eithne.


Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.