Public rally in hunt for missing angler

The search on Lough Ree in Co Westmeath
The search on Lough Ree in Co Westmeath

As the search for a missing Portadown angler enters its seventh day, an appeal has been launched to help the family of Daryl Burke remain at the Co Westmeath lakeside as long as necessary.

A member of the Portadown Pikers club, the 30-year-old father-of-three was one of three pike fishermen whose boat capsized on Lough Ree last Thursday.

David Warnock from Armagh was pulled from the water but died later in hospital. The third man, John Trimble, is currently recovering in hospital.

Craigavon’s deputy mayor Colin McCusker said the local community was united in support of the Burke family and desperately thinking of ways to help them through their ordeal. “While this search is ongoing there is no closure, and everyone is doing whatever they can to support the Burke family,” he said.

“There is a lot of concern in the community and people feel really helpless. They really want to do something.

“We are trying to get some staff on the council to advise on how to set up a fund and other practical assistance. The family are split up at the minute with some of them remaining down in Westmeath,” Cllr McCusker added.

The Killicomaine Community Centre was open last night for people to drop in with donations of sandwich fillings, tea and various other snack items for delivery to the Burke family and the volunteer searchers at Lough Ree.

Lynn Maxwell was at the centre last night.

Appealing for donations, she said: “Anything that would make a decent lunch for all the wonderful folk who are battling all weathers down there.

“Anything else you think would be of use, maybe you know someone who can provide disposable cups, plates, napkins etc.”

There have been countless messages of support for the Burke family on social networking sites, and praise for those offering support.

One Facebook message read: “Even though I am very sad at the loss of two fantastic young men, I am filled with pride at the response of their people.”

The angling party had set out on a fishing and camping trip on Thursday afternoon when the weather suddenly deteriorated.

Sean McCarry of the NI Community Rescue Service has been involved in the Lough Ree search, along with Garda underwater search teams, and was back on the water yesterday. He said there has been no sign whatsoever of the anglers’ boat or Mr Burke since they were reported missing.

“Bits of debris are getting picked up here and there but there is nothing definitive.

“We are using our sonar to eliminate area after area.

“We are working on whatever information we are given by the Garda.”

Speaking yesterday afternoon, Mr McCarry added: “There are quite a few volunteer search teams here from different areas. The weather isn’t too bad today so we will be searching until dark. We will just keep going.”

The Community Rescue Service Team is expected to remain at Lough Ree as long as required.