DUNDALK Sub-Aqua Search & Rescue is calling on Dundalk Town Council to provide slip access to the Castletown River after one of its boats was damaged during a recent mission.
A team of 16 volunteers from the not-for-profit organisation helped to recover the body of John Tiernan who died in tragic circumstances.
The 69-year-old was last seen at his home in Fr Murray Park, Dundalk on Christmas Eve. His body was recovered from the Castletown River on Wednesday, December 28 around 10.15am.
“We commenced the search around 9.30am after a short briefing on Quay Street. We were organised and broke up into groups,” said Paddy Agnew of Dundalk Sub-Aqua Search & Rescue.
“We recovered the body, and took him ashore in a boat. After the remains had been removed from the boat, we put the boat back on a trailer at the rear of Dixons.
“It was while we were trying to get the boat out of the river that the boat sustained e900 worth of damage because there is no slip access anywhere on the Castletown River.”
Mr Agnew added: “It’s ridiculous now at this stage that there is no access. We offer a public service, free of charge and voluntary. The boat is away getting repaired now.
“We do have another boat on standby as we would never leave ourselves short.
“But it means we are down one boat in the meantime. We are hoping to have it back in time for our annual bucket collection so we can put it on display at The Square.”
Councillor Jim Ryan of Fr Murray Park, who was a neighbour of the late John Tiernan, has promised to raise the issue of slip access to the Castletown River with the local authority.
“I knew Johnny from school. We both went to the De La Salle. It’s very sad what happened. He was a quiet fella. My thoughts are with his family at this terrible time,” said Cllr Ryan.
“Any time is a terrible time for something like this to happen but particularly around Christmas, it is terribly sad. It’s an awful loss.”
Cllr Ryan said that he met with a representative from Dundalk Sub-Aqua Search & Rescue for 40 minutes to discuss the lack of access to the Castletown River for rescue and recovery missions.
“I will do my best to help with raise awareness of this issue,” he said.
“Search & Rescue are trying to improve facilities for the town and the council should be doing everything it can to help them. They provide a tremendous service to the gardai and the PSNI.
“The volunteers are very dedicated and provide an invaluable service to individuals and families in the Dundalk area, and indeed, across the nation.”
Cllr Ryan added: “I don’t know why it’s taken so long to provide slip access. In search and rescue operations, time is of the essence.
“The volunteers need to be able to get into the water as quickly as possible. Quite a number of people have lost their lives in the Castletown River in recent years.
“It’s about time proper access was provided. I intend to make it a priority at future council meetings. It would be a great facility for the town as it is much needed.”
Dundalk Sub-Aqua was set up in 2001 by experienced local divers who pooled their knowledge of local/national dive sites and diving experience. For more details visit www.dundalksubaqua.com.