Varadkar: Thoughts 'very much with families' of Rescue 116 crew as family and friends gather for anniversary vigil

Update 10pm: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has paid tribute to the lost crew of R116 today on the first anniversary of the tragedy, writes Elaine Loughlin.

Speaking ahead of the anniversary, Mr Varadkar said: "It is the one-year anniversary, and they have been on my mind. I have been reading some of the coverage of the anniversary when I have had time over the past couple of days.

"I am a former Minister for Transport, so I know the Coastguard well, and indeed I met Captain Dara Fitzpatrick during my role as Minister. I am conscious at this stage that there are families who are still grieving and of course there are families who do not have the remains of their loved ones, and my thoughts are very much with them at this sad time," Mr Varadkar said in Washington.

Earlier:Family and friends of those killed in the Rescue 116 crash will attend a vigil on the Mayo coast later tonight.

Tomorrow marks one year since the helicopter went down near Blackrock Island with the loss of all four crew members.

The bodies of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and Captain Mark Duffy were recovered afterwards.

Their colleagues, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith, remain lost at sea.

Niamh Fitzpatrick, sister of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, tweeted: “For all the calls, messages, prayers & hugs, a heartfelt thank you.

“We have an unbelievably tough time ahead, but the never-ending kindness & that powerful wave of support does help.

“Through these absolute worst times in life I have seen the absolute best of humanity. Thank you.”

Local photo-journalist Fergus Sweeney says it’s had a huge impact on the Blacksod community.

“If we think about the four crew members who were lost and the huge positive effects they brought to people’s lives by doing their jobs, rescuing people, taking them out of danger, I think the energy from the crew and that positivity has been transferred to the community,” said Mr Sweeney.

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