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Northern Ireland news

Malin Head drowings: Victim Gerry Doherty's father died in same waters

The scene at Portronan pier off Malin Head, Co Donegal. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

THE father of one of the victims of the Malin Head double-drowning tragedy died in the same waters 39 years ago, it has emerged.

Gerry 'Malin' Doherty died when his 16 ft cruiser capsized around three quarters of a mile off Malin Head on Tuesday. Sixteen-year-old Thomas Weir also drowned while a third man, Dessie Keenan, survived.

A close friend of Mr Doherty has revealed that the Donegal man's father Paddy drowned while fishing for crabs in the same waters.

Donegal Sinn Féin councillor Albert Doherty, who went to school with the victim, said his friend's father had slipped and fallen off rocks while crabbing in the same area.

Gerry Doherty and his party left Portronan pier off Malin Head, Co Donegal on Tuesday morning. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Mr Doherty was originally from Carndonagh but had worked in Australia and London before returning to live in Burt near the Derry-Donegal border.

From Dalkeith in Midlothian in Scotland, Thomas Weir had been staying with Mr Keenan in Derry to whom he was related. The teenager, known as Tam to friends, had been a pupil at St David’s Catholic High School in Dalkeith. His death sparked an outpouring of grief on social media sites.

Eleanor Ferguson, a cousin, posted on Facebook: “Honestly can’t believe this. Rest in peace to my Uncle Gerry and my baby cousin Thomas.”

Thomas Weir (16) was from Dalkeith in Midlothian, Scotland.

Another friend, Dylon Bell posted: “Cannot believe this. RIP Tam, taken far too soon.”

A planned festival in Achill Island, County Mayo this weekend, has been postponed as a mark of respect to the victims.

Mr Keenan was treated in Altnagelvin hospital and has since been released. It is understood he survived by clinging to the upturned hull of the boat until he was rescued by an incoming fishing boat. It is believed it was Mr Keenan who alerted emergency services to the fact that there were two other victims after the alarm was initially raised.

Investigations are being carried out by gardai in Co Donegal and the Republic’s Marine Investigation Board.

It has been revealed that Mr Doherty and the others left Portronan Pier in Inishowen around 9am on Tuesday. It is understood the boat’s engine failed around noon and the boat capsized. While the three victims initially managed to stay with the upturned vessel, they were eventually separated in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.

Mr Doherty’s funeral will take place later today from his home at Castleview, Castlecooley, Burt at 9.30am for Requiem Mass at St Mary’s Church, Lagg, Malin at 11am. He will be buried immediately afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

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