Fishing boats urged to join Rescue 116 search

The sister of missing crew member Ciarán Smith says the outpouring of public support has given her “faith in humanity”

The sister of one of the missing crew-members from the Rescue 116 Coast Guard helicopter has made an appeal for help as the search effort enters 21st day.

The remains of two of the four-person crew, Captains Dara Fitzpatrick and Mark Duffy have been recovered and laid to rest – however, the remaining crewmembers are still missing.

The helicopter went down after a collision with Blackrock Island off the coast of Mayo on March 14th.

Rescue teams were able to lift the helicopter’s fuselage off the ocean floor on Sunday – however there was no indication as to the whereabouts of crewmembers, Ciarán Smith (38) and Paul Ormsby (53).

Searches are continuing along the surface and coastline but the weather conditions have been an ongoing problem for the rescue teams.

“Bring the boys home”

Ciarán’s sister, Orla Smith, has now launched a nationwide appeal for help, as efforts to locate the missing men prepare to enter their fourth week.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, she opened up about the pain her family has experienced – and the generosity shown by people around the country since the tragic crash.

“To say that the last three weeks have felt like months is an understatement,” she said. “It has been so tough but we have been supported by so many people; we continue to be supported by so many people and we are so grateful for that.”

She said she wakes up every day with “a little bit of hope” that the crewmembers will be found, “that we are going to get him home.”

“Then it is dashed every now and again and I suppose Sunday we were all hoping – and when I say we I mean the families and I mean the rescue workers - everyone was hopeful that Ciarán and Paul would be found with the wreckage but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”

Nationwide appeal

Orla has issued an appeal to fishing boats and trawlers all along the northwest coast of Ireland to come out and help in the search in an effort to “bring the boys home.”

“We know that they have extensive knowledge of the sea,” she said. “They understand the tides, they understand the currents and we know that they know where to look.”

Orla said her brother was always “a family man at heart” adding that anyone who met him will always remember him.

“His three girls are his greatest achievement in life,” she said. “His wife Martina and himself have put such work into them and they are truly tremendous girls and they have done so well over the last three weeks to cope with all of this.”

“Ciarán was just a really great guy; he loved talking to people, he loved being around people, he loved knowing about people.

“He had a great sense of humour; he loved his job, he loved his work and he was just a truly great guy.”

Public response

She said the response from the public over the past three weeks has been “outstanding” adding that it has given her faith in humanity.

“It is just heart warming,” she said. “It really is keeping us going and keeping us strong.”

“These are such difficult times for all of us and we are finding it hard going there is no doubt about it but people have just been amazing, they really have and we can’t thank them enough.

“They will never know how grateful we are for everything they have done for us over the last three weeks – and continue to do for us.”

You can listen back to Orla’s conversation with Newstalk’s Shane Colman here: