Mayo diver awarded medal posthumously


A MAYO diver who lost his life trying to save three people from a sea cave near Belderg, Co Mayo, in 1997 has been given a posthumous award by the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources.

Mr Michael Heffernan, who was a member of the Grainne Uaile Sub Aqua Club of Ballina, Co Mayo, was awarded a gold medal at a ceremony hosted by Dr Woods in Dublin Castle yesterday. Three silver and three bronze medals were also presented to six other participants in the Belderg rescue, which occurred on October 25th, 1997. Garda Ciaran Doyle, a member of the Garda Underwater Unit, Mr Sean McHale, coxswain of the Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES) Killala Rescue Boat, and Mr Josie Barrett of the Grainne Uaile Sub Aqua Club received silver awards for extreme courage. Garda David Mulhall, Garda Sean O'Connell and Mr Martin Kavanagh of the IMES coastal unit at Killala received bronze medals.

A man who rescued a child from a car which plunged into Wicklow harbour in November 1996 was given an award for marine gallantry. Mr Billy Dickenson was given his decoration for his actions, which resulted in the child being brought safely to shore.

Awards for meritorious service were presented to the following: Capt Nick Gribble of the IMES Sikorski helicopter at Shannon for his response during the rescue of 13 crew from an Irish-Spanish fishing vessel in December, 1993 when the helicopter blades were damaged by a snapped winch wire; Winchman John McDermott of the IMES helicopter crew for his actions during the same event; Mr Charles Cavanagh, area officer, and IMES coastal unit team members, Green castle, Co Donegal; Mr Michael O'Regan, area officer and IMES coastal unit team members, Goleen, Co Cork; and Mr Martin Shannon, area officer, and IMES coastal unit team members, Doolin, Co Clare.