The brother of missing Derry man John Concannon has expressed his gratitude to the crowds who took time away from their festive celebrations to help search for him.
More than 100 people gathered at Ballyarnett Country Park in Derry on Sunday to search for John (71), who was last seen close to the Derry-Donegal border at Lenamore Road on November 10.
Dozens of local people and volunteers from community and voluntary groups joined relatives of Mr Concannon and the official search crews for the post-Christmas push to try and find John.
Among those taking part were UNISON trade union members and even people who turned up on horseback.
Coastguard personnel from the Republic were also among those who helped in the search, which centred again on the area where John was last seen, and the surrounding environs.
John Concannon suffers from dementia and anaemia and has communication difficulties. He had been due to return to his home in Altcar Park in Galliagh on the evening of Tuesday, November 10, as per his daily routine, but it is believed to got on the wrong bus at Foyle Street bus depot in Derry, became confused and alighted in a rural spot on the edge of the city limits, about a mile from his home.
No fresh clues as to John’s whereabouts were found during the search on Sunday, but John Concannon’s brother Michael said it was brilliant to see so many people turning out to help them try and locate John.
“I would have to say it was really super to see it; it was great,” Michael said. “It was brilliant and we covered a lot of ground. The search concentrated along the back of the Beragh Hill area again and down towards the Rock Bar. There was nothing found.”
Describing the festive period for the family this year, Michael added: “It wasn’t a great Christmas to be honest. You try and be positive and make the most of it for family and friends, but you are thinking about it all the time.
“We are going to head back out searching again but we are taking all our leads from the Search and Rescue people.”
John’s family have been ceaselessly searching for him, aided by the PSNI, An Garda, Community Search Teams, neighbours, friends and an army of volunteers from across Derry, Donegal and beyond over the past seven weeks.
The missing man was captured on CCTV alighting from the bus (above) and also on CCTV at Lenamore Road.
His son Edward said earlier this month: “You never think one of your parents will go missing. You hear it about others but you don’t think it will ever happen,” he said.
“It’s quite tragic. We are looking over the same areas, but we want to be extremely thorough.”
Edward urged anyone who sees a person in apparent distress or who looks like they might need help to go to them and try to communicate with them and report it straight away if they think the person might be vulnerable.