Death of young mum Ruth Maguire leaves community stunned
A community is in shock after a missing Co Down mother's body was recovered from a lough in the Irish Republic yesterday afternoon.
Ruth Maguire, who lived in Newcastle, disappeared after spending a night out with a hen party in Carlingford, Co Louth. She was last seen at 11.30pm on Saturday evening.
An extensive cross-border multi-agency search operation was subsequently launched involving the Irish Coastguard, Belfast Coastguard, Kilkeel lifeboat and Newcastle RNLI as well as Mourne Mountain Rescue.
Rescue teams had suspended sea and land searches on Sunday evening but resumed their efforts early yesterday.
The search was called off around 1pm after reports emerged that a body had been found in waters off the coast of Greenore, which lies 5km from Carlingford.
At the scene, George Campbell, officer in charge of the Greenore Coastguard Unit, confirmed the body recovered was that of Ms Maguire.
"I'm sorry to say that a young female has been recovered and identified as the person reported missing," he said.
Thanking the PSNI and Gardai for their assistance along with their Northern Ireland counterparts, Mr Campbell said it was a very sad development for all concerned, especially for Ms Maguire's loved ones.
"Our sympathies go out to the lady's family," he added.
His colleague, James Larkin, east coast sector manager with the Irish Coastguard, told the Belfast Telegraph he took some comfort the family had received closure in what was very tragic circumstances.
He revealed the recovery operation had taken place in the "vicinity of Haulbowline Lighthouse", a landmark situated at the entrance to Carlingford Lough.
Just hours before the terrible news broke, members of the hen party had been maintaining a vigil at Carlingford Harbour.
Bystanders also reported seeing some of Ms Maguire's loved ones looking distressed.
Ms Maguire had been part of a 32-strong group which had travelled to Co Louth to celebrate an impending wedding.
The hen party began searching for the Daisy Hill Hospital worker, who was originally from Belfast, when she failed to a return to a house located close to Taaffe's Bar, where the group had celebrated. A doorman is reported to have heard Ms Maguire say that she was considering making her way home to Newcastle where she lived with her partner and children.
It was later discovered she had left her coat in the bar and had later taken a photograph of the lough and posted it to Instagram around midnight.
Her friends had launched a frantic appeal on social media for her safe return.
Two of the hen party members said they had been left devastated by Ms Maguire's disappearance. "No one has had any sleep," said one young woman, who did not wish to be named.
Local Sinn Fein councillor Antoin Watters said Carlingford was reeling from a double tragedy yesterday - that of Ms Maguire as well as the deaths of two Northern Ireland men who were killed in a nearby fatal road collision.
"The mood has been very sombre. I was talking to a lot of business owners who were offering any assistance they could," he said.
"The [Cooley] Peninsula will also be in mourning with the two road deaths last night. My thoughts and prayers are with their families."
He described Ms Maguire's death as "very sad news".
"My thoughts and prayers are with the family and the other girls on the hen. This morning we came out to help. That's what the local community comes out to do, to offer any assistance we could give, and it's very sad how it ended."
Meanwhile, police and the family of Nicola Murray from Cushendall continue to appeal for information in relation to her whereabouts.
Rescue teams have been carrying out searches of the Co Antrim coastline.
Nicola is 43 years old, around 5ft 3ins tall, of slim build, with dark brown shoulder-length hair, which is slightly greying and normally tied in a ponytail.
She was last seen leaving her home address in Cushendall at around 6.15pm on Saturday. When last seen she was wearing a short red padded coat, dark blue jeans and a pink-coloured beanie hat.
Police are appealing for Nicola, or anyone who knows of her whereabouts, to contact officers in Coleraine on 101 quoting reference 1183 16/03/19.