The Irish Coast Guard helicopter that crashed off the coast of County Mayo in the early hours of this morning had visited Newry just last month, landing at the Meadow 5 February to leave a Paramedic off.

The aircraft had also been involved in Monday afternoon’s helicopter crash in Carlingford, taking two injured people to hospital in Dublin. Rescue 116 based in Dublin had been providing cover for an incident involving a UK registered fishing boat and contact was lost with the aircraft around 12.45am.

The Rescue 116 helicopter that was lost today off County Mayo, pictured last month in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Rescue 116 helicopter that was lost today off County Mayo, pictured last month in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The Helicopter had four crew on board when it disappeared. Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, one of the Irish Coast Guard’s most senior pilots was recovered at first light but she passed away in hospital. The three other crew members are still missing.

Irish Naval ship LE Roisin and a RNLI Lifeboat as well as several fishing ships are searching the area at present.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. expressed deep concern at the news “As the search for the Dublin based helicopter R116 is currently underway I would like to express my sincere support and sympathies for all those involved, particularly those family members who are awaiting news of their loved ones.

This is an extremely difficult time for all concerned. As we await further information I would like to appeal for space to be given to the relevant professionals involved in the search operation to complete their work. Once again, I send my utmost support to all those affected.”

Over the years the Coast Guard Helicopter has become a regular sight landing at The Meadow in Newry, taking the injured from mountain and sea rescues to Daisy Hill Hospital.

It can’t be overestimated the incredible work the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI do in seriously challenging circumstances.