Belfast Telegraph

Trawler tragedy probe 'a shambles'

The owner of a trawler which sank off the North Coast with the loss of his father and uncle has hit out at the Dublin-based authorities over what he claimed was their failure to carry out a proper inquiry into the tragedy.

Danny McDaid, 70, and his brother Francis, 69, drowned when their boat vanished almost five years ago near Inishowen Head, Co Donegal, close to the mouth of Lough Foyle.

Their bodies were recovered that day, but it was four weeks before divers were sent down to check the wreckage which by then had broken up, according to Frankie McDaid. "The investigation has been a shambles from day one," he claimed.

An inquest into their deaths was due to re-open in Coleraine, Co Derry, but the hearing was called off after the senior Northern Ireland Coroner John Leckey ruled he had no power to conduct the hearing as the drownings happened outside his jurisdiction.

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Board (MAIB) carried out an initial inquiry, but once it was discovered the boat sank in Irish territorial waters the matter was then handed over to the Dublin-based Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

At the time of the drownings, locals claimed the trawler, which was fishing for lobsters, could have been pulled down when the nets were caught by a passing vessel. There was a tanker in the area at the time.

But Mr Leckey insisted there was no evidence in a report of the investigation by the MCIB that there had been any sort of collision.

"All we do know is that for whatever reason the trawler sank," he said.

The McDaid brothers came from Glengad, seven miles from Malin. Frankie McDaid, 40, Francis McDaid's son, revealed he was facing legal proceedings following the tragedy in March 2008. The trawler, Strath Marie, was insured, but the lives of the two men were not.

After the hearing he said he was angry that the authorities took too long to examine the wreckage which was discovered by local fishermen and a lifeboat crew on the day the trawler went down.


From Belfast Telegraph