Amid fears two children had been swept out to sea in yesterday’s atrocious weather, the Navy’s LE Orla joined the Coastguard helicopter, two lifeboats and two Coastguard units to comb the water around Inch Strand, east Cork, yesterday.
Gardaí also made house-to-house inquiries in the area to find the parents as no report of missing children had been made.
“We were obviously very concerned initially when we had the report about the clothing left on the beach,” said Inspector Brian Goulding, of Midleton Garda Station.
“But our concern was scaled down when we received calls later from people telling us the clothes could have been there since Saturday.”
The gardaí were alerted at about 5.30pm yesterday after a man on Inch Strand beach spotted items of young boys’ and girls’ clothing including socks and shoes.
Gardaí drafted in the Coastguard and the RNLI as well as the Irish Navy for the search, which lasted two hours before officers decided to call off the hunt.
The Ballycotton and Crosshaven lifeboats as well as the Guileen and Ballycotton Coastguard units were deployed in the search as was the Coastguard helicopter from Waterford.
The Navy sent the LE Orla, which had been involved in hunt triggered by the discovery of €105 million of cocaine off the west Cork coast last week.
Last night, gardaí in Midleton said they were keen to reunite the owners of the children’s clothing with their property and find out how the clothes came to be left on the beach.
“We would like to speak to anyone who noticed children’s clothing on the beach since Friday,” said Insp Goulding.
“We are keen to get to the bottom of this, if only so the owners can claim their property.”
In January 2005, the body of Midleton 11-year-old Robert Holohan was found dumped near Inch Strand after he went missing eight days earlier.