Mickey Harte's daughter dies


The daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte has has been killed while on honeymoon.

While the circumstances surrounding Michaela Harte's death are still unclear, a statement released late this afternoon from her father and her husband's uncle said she had been killed.

Ms Harte, who was a former Rose of Tralee contestant, was on honeymoon in Mauritius at the time of her death.

Police in Mauritius told The Irish Times that Ms Harte was found in her hotel but was unable to provide any further details. A spokesman for the police said a postmortem would take place tomorrow.

The 27-year-old married Down football player John McAreavey at St Malachy's Church, Ballymacilroy, Co Tyrone on December 30th last.

Ms Harte and Mr McAreavey were staying at the Legends Hotel in Grand Gaube, a town located in the Rivière du Rempart District in northern Mauritius.

According to a spokesman for the hotel, Mr McArevey found the body of Ms Harte at about 3pm local time (11am Irish time) and contacted the front desk who in turn alerted police.

The uncle of John McAreavey, the Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, and Mickey Harte asked for prayers for Michaela, John and their families and loved ones.

“Both families are deeply shocked and devastated by this tragic news and they ask for privacy and space at this time of profound grief," they said in the statement.

Speaking this evening, Bishop John McAreavey said “ there are fears” about the circumstances of the death

“We fear something has happened but we still have so many unanswered questions “, he said in Banbridge.

The Bishop did not withdraw the earlier statement which suggested that they had heard that Michaela had been killed.

He said perhaps the statement had been made in haste but they still had genuine concerns about how she had died.

They had also heard reports that it was an accident but they just did not have enough information.

He said that Michaela was the light of her husband’s life and the death had been devastating for the family.

“My strongest sense is that a light has gone out “, he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed tonight it was providing consular assistance to thethe family of an Irish citizen who had died in Mauritius.

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew expressed her condolences to the Harte and McAreavey families this evening.

"Michaela was a beautiful and talented young woman who will be sadly missed. The fact that just a week ago she was experiencing the love and happiness of her wedding to County Down footballer John McAreavey in the company of family and friends makes it even more difficult to take in that she has passed away," she said.

"My sincere condolences go out to the entire Harte and McAreavey family circles and friends and I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time," she added.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tonight expressed shock at the death of Michaela Harte

“Just a matter of days ago it was a joyous occasion when Michaela married John and no doubt they planned a long and happy life together. They had so much to live for but now their hopes have been cruelly dashed by the tragic death of Michaela,” he said.

“Michaela was always close to her father’s side during many great days for Tyrone football. Her enthusiasm for her native county, for which she was an excellent ambassador, knew no bounds,” Mr McGuinness added.

Fine Gael sports spokesman John O'Mahony expressed his deepest sympathies to the families.

“Michaela was such a recognisable figure with her dad Mickey when Tyrone made the breakthrough to All-Ireland senior success in 2003 and many years in advance she had forecasted the victory of the team under her dad’s guidance," he said.

“I have known the Harte family for years and my thoughts are with them on this unspeakably sad day,” he added.

The organisers of the Rose of Tralee festival also expressed their sadness at the death of Ms Harte.

"It is with great sadness that we have heard about the tragic and untimely death of Michaela Harte, Ulster Rose 2004," said Oliver Hurley, general manager of the festival.

"Michaela was a wonderful person who had her whole life ahead of her and we extend our deepest sympathy to her husband John McAreavey, her parents Mickey and Marian and her brothers Mark, Michael and Matthew at this time of profound grief," he added.