The uncle of Derry teenager Dean Millar insists there is an urgent need for a facility to help people in crisis as the search for his remains continued yesterday,
Paddy McDaid was speaking as he and his family continued to search along the River Foyle alongside volunteers from across the north west.
Mr. McDaid said his family was heartbroken but comforted by the support they are receiving from local people, with over 100 volunteers turning out on Wednesday evening alone, as well as from the expert teams.
He also praised the family of Jack Glenn, who have been searching along the river for the 22-years-old’s remains for almost six weeks. Mr. McDaid said: “We are working very well with the Glenn family and they have been giving us advice and keeping us up to date. Some of the advice they have given us has cut out some of the mistakes we could make straight away.
“Fair play to them, they came up to us on Tuesday night and presented us with binoculars and torches and we greatly appreciated it.”
Mr. McDaid added that in terms of the search “everything they do and we do, we do it for Dean and Jack.”
“Everybody is out together on it. The people coming out to show their support, that definitely is a major comfort,” he added.
Mr McDaid said the family was realising that it may not get Dean back as quickly as they had hoped, and was now looking at a different search strategy, while vowing that they would not stop until they get Dean home.
“Our next stop is we are going to try and arrange for a permanent base as at the minute we are working out of cars and vans. We can then put the equipment in there for the search.”
Mr McDaid has also backed calls for a local facility that could result in helping people who have reached crisis point.
“There is a massive calling for this here and the town needs a centre where people can be properly assessed, an emergency drop in, and not a service where you go in and then have to wait on referrals that can take months.
“There should be a monitoring system. There could be a 48 hour watch over them and a recommendation made then regarding treatment or counselling.
“What is it going to take? How far is this going to go- is there a statistic; a number that has to be reached before this is done? We need somewhere where people can walk in, and be referred to within a short amount of time. We are not the first to say it; it has been said, and said again.”
Mr. McDaid also said that he would like to see more done in terms of all local bridges, including upgraded CCTV coverage. He also pointed to a project in London whereby speaker systems have been installed at bridges, which enabled people to speak to a person in distress. “That voice could be the voice of reason until the emergency services arrive,” he said.
For updates on the search operation, check the ‘Help Get Dean Home’ Facebook page.
*The Lifeline helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Anyone of any age living in the north can call Lifeline free and in confidence on 0808 808 8000.