Rescuers said that the body of 30-year-old Ruth Maguire had turned up on a small island in the middle of Carlingford Lough, after she disappeared from a hen do in the Co Louth border town. The mother of three had apparently vanished on Saturday night.
In a heart-rending post of Facebook yesterday, Ms Maguire’s partner James Griffin said the pair had been due to get married in August.
He thanked the emergency services and local people from Carlingford who assisted in the search, adding: “Ruth wasn’t just my partner she was my soul mate. Stay safe love always James and your three beautiful children.”
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that Irish police are being investigated to determine if their actions played any role in a fatal motor accident on the R173 in the Carlingford area at around half-past midnight on Monday morning.
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Bryansford GAA club issued a statement naming the pair killed in the road crash as former underage players Marty Patterson and Shane McAnallen – and adding that Ms Maguire had been the club’s underage coach.
Ruth worked as a nursing assistant for the South Eastern trust, which said her colleagues have reacted to the news with “disbelief”.
“Ruth had worked within the school nursing team in the Down area since February 5 2018,” the trust said.
“During this time, she established great friendships both locally and across the service and she was a much loved and valued colleague.
“Her loss will be felt across the service for some considerable time.”
She also worked for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council as a leisure attendant at the Newcastle Centre from May 2018.
“Ruth was pleasant-natured, intuitive and hard working who was popular with colleagues and customers alike,” the council said.
“She was an asset to the team in the Newcastle Centre, and will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her.”
The whole tragic chain of events of the weekend began as follows.
Hen party reveller Seana McMullan wrote on Facebook at 11.30pm on Sunday: “It’s now been a full 24hrs from Ruth Maguire has been seen.
“She was separated from our hen party last night in Carlingford and we assumed that she would return by morning after a few of the girls searched for her ... her phone has not been active since 12pm last night.”
A huge hunt to find her then got under way, but on Monday afternoon the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team said a body had been recovered from Carlingford Lough.
John Fisher of Kilkeel RNLI said up to 100 rescuers took part in the search for the mother of three, originally from Belfast, latterly living in Newcastle.
As for the two men who died in the single-car crash, Gardai said their ages were “unknown”, but reports have put them in their 20s, and say they are from south Down.
RTE reported “it is believed gardaí had attempted to stop the vehicle prior to the collision”, but Garda would not confirm this yesterday.
It said the matter “has been referred to the Garda Ombudsman Commission under a Section 102 referral”.
This refers to probes about whether police misconduct played a role in a death or serious injury.