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Divers locate body in search for missing fisherman off Wexford coast

Two men were aboard the Alize when it sank off Hook Head on 4 January.

 William “Willie” Whelan
William “Willie” Whelan
Image: Sarah Slater

A BODY, BELIEVED to be that of missing fisherman William ‘Willie’ Whelan, has been located off the Wexford coast.

The 41-year-old from Saltmills, Co Wexford, disappeared when his trawler, the Alize, an 11.7-metre steel-hulled vessel, sank off Hook Head on 4 January at around 10.45pm.

A body was found at 11.30am today by Hook Sub Aqua divers inside his boat but will not be removed for up to 48 hours due to the complexity of the operation.

A second fisherman, who died in hospital after being rescued, Joe Sinnott, 65, from Kilmore Quay, was laid to rest last week.

The two men were close friends as well as work colleagues.

Both men had impeccable safety records around trawlers and when out fishing.

The emergency services were alerted to the vessel being in trouble when the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) was activated.

The emergency beacon is activated once a vessel goes underwater.

Fr Michael Doyle, hospital chaplain at Wexford General Hospital said prayers for the missing man at Hook Lighthouse last week, and a large number of people attended.

Fr Doyle prayed for Mr Whelan’s family, relatives of Mr Sinnott and for volunteer groups who continue to search amid challenging weather conditions.

Volunteers continued to carry out coastal searches for Whelan who only married several weeks ago.

The search concentrated on an area about 9km off Hook Head, under the guidance of the LÉ Ciara naval vessel.

The Waterford based Sikorsky R117 helicopter along with R116 based in Dublin also assisted when possible.

A spokesperson for the Whelan family said:

Thank you again to each and every one of you. I literally can’t put into words how grateful the Whelan family are. Let’s get William home.

Mr Whelan hailed from a well-known fishing family in Co Wexford.

Up to 50 volunteers took part in the ongoing searches and it still remains a mystery what happened to the trawler which has yet to be recovered.

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About the author:

Sarah Slater

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