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NI rescue officers join mourners at funeral of tragic Coastguard pilot

By Chris McCullough

Members of the Northern Ireland Coastguard were among the mourners at the funeral of a helicopter pilot who died following a crash off the coast of Mayo.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick died when the Irish Rescue 116 helicopter came down in the sea last Tuesday.

Hundreds of mourners attended her funeral on Saturday at St Patrick's Church in Glencullen, Co Dublin.

Captain Fitzpatrick's parents, four siblings, son Fionn and other family members accompanied the coffin into the church.

Four Coastguard officers from the Coleraine station joined eight of their Northern Ireland colleagues at the service.

A Coastguard helicopter did a flypast in tribute.

Parish Priest Fr Andrew O'Sullivan said St Patrick's had seen many sad and tragic funerals, but few as sorrowful as this.

He said their thoughts were with Captain Fitzpatrick's three crew members, who are still missing.

Dara's sister told the funeral Mass that "God owes us, he owes us to bring home Dara's three colleagues who are still missing".

Captain Fitzpatrick was part of a crew that was regularly involved in search and recovery operations this side of the border.

Chris Little, station officer at Coleraine, said the accident had affected everyone in the service across the island.

"The search and rescue team is quite a small one," he said.

"The loss of Dara, or any other member of the team, is felt through the whole rescue community and further afield.

"Our crews have worked with Dara and her team in the past on a number of rescue operations. The Irish Coastguard is frequently used on Northern Ireland rescues. There are no borders when it comes to helping people who need rescuing, no matter where they are.

"Four of our team from Coleraine attended Dara's funeral alongside eight other Northern Ireland personnel to pay tribute to the officer."

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