Police hail 'extraordinary' effort in Lough Erne search for missing man Kieran McAree
An "extraordinary" level of community support has been given to help the family of missing man Kieran McAree, police have said.
A PSNI officer revealed that hundreds of volunteers had assisted in the search operation, which has now entered its 17th day in Enniskillen
The search is now focused on recovering the young man's body as it is believed that he entered the water after abandoning his Volkswagen Golf near Henry Street early on the morning of December 17.
There were more than 300 people last weekend using their own private boats, canoes and kayaks to cover a mile of water of Lough Erne to search for the popular GAA player.
His family from Monaghan - parents Martin and Geraldine and brother Damien and sister Aisling - have been waiting for news every day at the Round 'O' jetty. Constable Gavin Huey paid a touching tribute to the local effort of the volunteers as the search operation was hampered over the last few days because of bad weather and strong currents.
"This is the biggest search I have ever witnessed on Lough Erne," he told the Impartial Reporter.
"The community in Fermanagh is really pulling together to help Kieran's family."
He added: "The level of support from across the county and across Ireland has been quite extraordinary, from taking part in the search to making food.
"The Anchorage Coffee Shop at the Round 'O' has been making tea and sandwiches and other food for free.
"Everybody has been out in force, all types of groups, organisations and people have all been eager to help."
One search volunteer vowed that his team would not leave Lough Erne "until we have found Kieran".
Thomas Daly from the Boyne Fishermen Rescue and Recovery Service, which consists of 37 people, added: "We will not be leaving yet, no, not until we have found Kieran.
"We are thinking about the family and are here to help put an end to this, to help them move on."
The lough has been searched by two police boats equipped with high-tech sonar, while a police helicopter and a victim recovery dog have also been used to check the surrounding area.
However, the police divers have been hampered by searching in the cold, very fast flowing water, which has resulted in poor visibility.
Many of the volunteers responded to social media appeals for help on Facebook and Twitter and the search has taken on an emotional dimension.
Mr Huey added: "All our thoughts and prayers must continue to be with Kieran's family.
"Many people are getting emotional during all of this.
"We would just love to get a resolution so we can bring the family some closure.
"I have got to know them and they really do appreciate all the help and support of the people in Fermanagh," he said.
Kieran McAree from Monaghan was last seen in the Henry Street area of Enniskillen in the early hours of Wednesday, December 17. The 23-year-old was spotted entering the waters of Lough Erne after abandoning his Volkswagen Golf car. Some of his clothing, including his shoes, were later recovered at the scene. His distraught parents Martin and Geraldine, with brother Damien and sister Aisling, have maintained a daily vigil at the lough.