'We thank all those who have offered kind thoughts'


Devastated family, friends and colleagues of the six crash victims were struggling to come to terms with their losses yesterday

THE WIDOW of crash victim Brendan McAleese is expecting their third child. Anne Marie McAleese, who is three months pregnant, also lost her father in recent weeks.

She remained in Cork last night having travelled there on hearing of the death of her husband, who was a cousin of Dr Martin McAleese, the President’s husband.

The funeral of Mr McAleese, who was managing director of a successful industrial cleaning company, Central Laundries, near Cookstown, Co Tyrone, is scheduled for Tanaghmore, Co Antrim, on Monday at lunchtime. The McAleeses have two other small children, understood to be of pre-school age.

A family statement issued yesterday said Mr McAleese was “a true gentleman”.

“Brendan was such a special character, a doting father, loving husband, son and brother, and a true gentleman to all who knew him,” the family said.

“We thank all those who have offered kind thoughts and words of comfort and we also remember that five other families are walking this path along with us.”

Postmortems were being carried out on the deceased yesterday and it is understood the Northern victims were being examined first to facilitate early removal of their remains.

Preparations were ongoing last night.

It was confirmed yesterday that the final victim to be named also had strong Northern connections.

Richard Noble (49) was originally from Derbyshire in England, and his wife is understood to have come from Bristol.

It is thought he had been living in Northern Ireland for some years.

He was managing director of the Irish division of printing business, the Danwood Group. The Nobles have one daughter, and are based in Belfast having moved from England.

Colin Daniels, group chairman and managing director, said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news that our colleague and friend Richard Noble has died in this terrible accident at Cork Airport.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Richard’s wife, daughter, family, friends and all of his colleagues within Danwood.

“We feel privileged to have worked with and known Richard. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.”

Pat Cullinan, a partner with KPMG consultants in Belfast, was originally from Omagh, Co Tyrone, but lived in south Belfast.

Jon D’Arcy, chairman of KPMG in Belfast, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat’s family and friends at this terribly sad time. He was highly regarded by all of his colleagues and clients and his tragic and untimely death has come as a shock to everyone in the firm, especially to those in our Belfast office and to all who knew Pat as an exceptional friend and colleague.”

Tom McBride, a cousin of the deceased, told BBC Northern Ireland yesterday that Mr Cullinan was “first and foremost, a very dedicated, loving family person”.

“He was one of a family of five and never forgot his roots.

“He was always a quiet but very well-focused individual, who clearly had objectives and goals in sight, and went after them in a very quiet and dignified way. I don’t think anybody is surprised by how well he did in his professional career.”

Colleagues of Belfast deputy harbour master Capt Michael Evans also paid tribute to him yesterday.

Harbour master Kevin Allen said: “We’re all devastated by the news of Michael’s death.

“He was phenomenally committed to his job and to his colleagues, helping ensure that the harbour stayed open to shipping every hour of every day.

“Michael was tremendous fun and unique to work with, and was well known and respected throughout the shipping industry. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Andrea, and family.”

The other two victims were the co-pilot Andrew Cantle from Sunderland and the Spanish pilot Jordi Sola Lopez.

Mr Cantle was aged 27 and was previously a lifeboat volunteer in the northeast of England.

He joined Sunderland RNLI in 2000 and spent eight years at the station before moving to York. While there, he started his career as an airline pilot.

Yesterday, his mother, Ann, said her son was “an all-action hero” who had his heart set on flying.

She and her husband first heard of the crash while on the internet but thought their son was supposed to be flying a Royal Mail service.

They did not know initially that he had been switched on to the Manx2 service.

“That’s all he has ever wanted to do in his entire life,” she said. “He was just like an all-action hero.

“He just wanted to do anything like that.

“All he wanted to do was commercial flying. From being six or seven years old that was his total life.”

Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, said: “Everyone involved with the lifeboat station is in total shock about the tragic loss of a very close and dear friend.”