• February 21, 2010

An ex Garda diver, who has several decorations for bravery, including one for his role in the Belderrig Cave Rescue in 1997, is involved in a bitter employment dispute with the Isle of Man government.

The plight of Sean O’Connell was highlighted in some detail in the Irish Times last week.

The League’s Director of Information, who is also a Secretary of the Isle of Man Public Sector Employees body the Whitley Council, is quoted in the article expressing concern at Mr O’Connell treatment. (See below):


The story has also featured on Energy FM (Manx). (See below):


The Belderrig Cave Rescue was well publicised in Ireland and involved 11 agencies and over 60 people. It occurred on October 26th 1997 in Co Mayo. Tony Murphy, his wife Carmel and their 11-year-old daughter, Emma, went on a boat trip with their German neighbour, Will Von Below. Their boat capsized and Mr Von Below was tragically killed. However, the survivors were washed into a 1000 ft sea cave. Hours went by before the survivors were finally spotted by local fishermen. It was the beginning of one of Ireland’s most arduous rescue operations, during which another man (from a local diving club) died. The Garda water unit, including Mr O’Connell, played a key role and he subsequently received a bravery award. The Garda team described the rescue conditions as the worst they had ever experienced.

Belderrig Cave Rescue links here:


In addition to the bravery award for services during the Belderrig tragedy, Mr O’Connell has also received a UN medal for services in Bosnia.

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