The President meets members of the Irish Coast Guard in Union Hall, shaking hands with Willie Joe Hayes from Rosscarberry and on his right is Patrick Hamilton, Glandore. Pic: Denis Boyle

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to the village of Union Hall and the efforts of local people to recover all of those lost in the Tit Bonhomme disaster.

The President made the comments as he attended an Ecumenical Service in Union Hall commemorating the five fishermen who lost their lives.

“I am deeply honoured by your invitation here to Union Hall and where I wish to pay tribute to your heroic search effort and to the honour of your lost loved ones,” said the President.

“Over the four week long search the Irish people got to know this community, a very special and strong community, an example of community working together.

“You worked together as a community and with great dignity every step         of the way and I congratulate you for that,” he said.

The Tit Bonhomme sank in heavy seas near Adam Island at the mouth of Glandore Harbour in the early hours of Sunday, January 15th.

Five of the six crewmembers on board lost their lives, 52-year-old skipper Michael Hayes from Helvick, Co. Waterford; 21-year-old Kevin Kershaw from Dublin who was on his first fishing voyage and Egyptian crewmen Saied aly Eldin (24), ShabanAttia (26) and Wael Mohamad (32).

All five bodies have now been recovered after three weeks of intensive searching which involved hundreds of volunteers on the shoreline, in and on the water.

Lifeboats, local trawlers, naval vessels and rescue helicopters were also involved in the search, one of the biggest in the history of the state.

One man survived, 40-year-old father of three Abdou Mohamad who is the older brother of Wael Mohamad who lost his life in the tragedy.