Latest: Coastguard says high winds will impede search for missing fisherman

A spokesperson for the Irish Coastguard has warned that gale force winds could impede the search for a missing fisherman off the south east coast this morning.

Latest: Coastguard says high winds will impede search for missing fisherman

Update 7.45pm: A spokesperson for the Irish Coastguard has warned that gale force winds could impede the search for a missing fisherman off the south east coast this morning.

Niall Ferns explained that high winds could mean a smaller search, but that winds are due to decrease from gale force 8 to gale force 7 by this afternoon.

He told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the search will resume at first light and will be continued “with all assets.”

Mr Ferns told of how the Coastguard first received the alert late on Saturday night when the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon from the trawler Alize, which had been out fishing for scallops for 36 hours, was activated and a major search was launched.

On board were father of four Joe Sinnott (65) from Kilmore Quay and recently married skipper Willie Whelan (41) from Fethard-on-Sea who comes from a well-known fishing family in Co Wexford.

Mr Sinnot was recovered shortly after, but despite efforts by emergency services, he passed away in University Hospital Waterford.

The search will continue Monday morning for Mr Whelan with the LE Ciara as the on scene coordinator, two units of the RNLI, Coastguard helicopter R117, added Mr Ferns, along with shoreline searches by the Coastguard and the local community.

An Independent Wexford councillor has said it is a mystery what happened to the fishing trawler.

Cllr Ger Carthy told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that “something catastrophic” must have happened for the trawler to go down so quickly without the crew being able to send a distress signal.

Emergency services were alerted when the trawler’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon was activated. That would have happened when the vessel went underwater said Cllr Carthy.

It is a mystery what happened. They were steaming back to port after a successful fishing trip.

Cllr Carthy paid tribute to the emergency services for the alacrity with which they recovered one of the members of the crew – Joe Sinnot, who subsequently passed away in University Hospital Waterford.

He described Mr Sinnot as a man with fishing in his DNA as his brother and nephew are also involved in maritime careers. “He is married to Mary, with four children, he spent his life working at sea. It is in the family’s blood.”

Cllr Carthy said that tragedies like this have a lasting effect on the community which he described as “very tight.”

“It has a ripple effect.”

He said that he hoped in time it will be known what happened and that Mr Whelan, the other crew member, can be returned to his family.

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar spoke to the director of the Irish Coast Guard, Eugene Clonan this morning to thank staff and volunteers for their ongoing work in the search operation off Hook Head.

“As the search continues, our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing fisherman, and those of his bereaved colleague," the Taoiseach said.

“This morning I spoke to the Director of the Irish Coast Guard, Eugene Clonan, on behalf of the Irish Government to thank him and his teams for their role in this search, in exceptionally difficult circumstances off the Wexford coast. As a former Minister for Transport, I am very conscious of the brave service provided by the Coast Guard’s staff and volunteers right around our coastline. I also acknowledged the vital assistance of the RNLI, the Civil Defence and other volunteers in this search and throughout the year.

“The Defence Forces is also providing assistance in this search, with the LE Ciara acting as a co-ordinating vessel. In my role as Minister for Defence, I assured Mr Clonan that the Defence Forces will be available to provide further assistance if required.”

Earlier: Search for man missing from trawler to resume today

The Coast Guard involved in the search at Hook Head, Co Wexford. Picture: Patrick Browne
The Coast Guard involved in the search at Hook Head, Co Wexford. Picture: Patrick Browne

By Jess Casey and Joe Leogue

The search for a man who went missing after a trawler disappeared off the southeast coast on Saturday night is expected to resume today.

Search efforts will continue after the identity was revealed of the man who was rescued from the water and subsequently passed away due to his injuries.

He has been named locally as 65-year-old father of four Joe Sinnott, who died in at University Hospital Wexford having been found in the water after the Alize trawler sunk off the coast of Hook Head on Saturday night.

A major multi-agency search operation for the second man on the Alize was wound down yesterday evening as weather conditions and visibility worsened.

At the time of going to print, the search party for the man, who is understood to be in his 40s, was expected to resume at first light, at approximately 8am today, weather permitting.

Shortly before midnight on Sunday, gardaí and the Coast Guard responded to reports that a fishing trawler carrying two men had sank near Hook Head off the Wexford coast.

A major search operation for the second man who remains missing intensified across the day, with RNLI crews from Kilmore Quay, Dunmore East, and Fethard-on-Sea, and the Coast Guard dispatched to the area.

Rescue helicopter 116 from Dublin and Rescue helicopter 117 from Waterford also assisted with the search.

The naval vessel LÉ Ciara also joined the search on Sunday, with the naval service assuming on-scene co-ordination.

Between 15 to 20 other trawlers also helped to conduct searches in the area.

Mr Sinnott’s cousin, also named Joe Sinnott, paid tribute to the late fisherman.

“I found out about two o’clock in the morning, one of my brothers rang me and asked did I hear the news, I said no, I had heard nothing. I couldn’t believe it. A great fisherman all his life, a very good one all his life,” he told RTÉ News.

Speaking to the same programme, local Independent councillor Ger Carthy said the sinking was a tragedy for the local community.

“At the start of the new year this is tragic news for any family to get and indeed a local man here living in Seaview has lost his life and has left behind a wife and four children,” he said. “The wider community are heavily involved here in fishing, in the costal community, and the maritime industry across Co Wexford.”

RTÉ also reported that an alert came from the trawler’s Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) late on Saturday night, and that debris from the vessel has been recovered from the sea, including the EPIRB.

Diesel was also found on the water near where the debris was recovered, which will aid searchers in focussing their operations.

Mr Sinnott is survived by his wife Mary and children Michael, Siobhán, Bernie, and Bridget.

His funeral is to be held on Wednesday at St Mary’s Church, Kilmore, Co Wexford. His family has requested donations to the RNLI in lieu of flowers.

So far in 2020, the Coast Guard has been tasked to 11 missions.

These have included six incidents of people in distress on the water, three cliff or mountain rescues, one flare sighting, and one organ transplant mission.

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