200 volunteers join distraught father of Dean McIlwaine in search
The father of a Newtownabbey man missing since Thursday was among 200 people who combed the streets of Belfast on Monday night in an unsuccessful effort to locate him.
Dean McIlwaine, 22, was last seen in the Carnmoney Road area of Newtownabbey around 1pm on July 13.
His distraught father, Rodney McIlwaine, led a 60-strong search team scouring every street and alleyway between the city centre and the Mater Hospital on the Crumlin Road.
He made an emotional appeal for anyone with information to pass it on immediately, and praised the public for their help with the search.
“Somebody must know something and I just hope they come forward,” he told the News Letter.
“It’s totally heart-breaking. This is my wee boy we’re searching for. We just have to keep trying but as the day goes on it gets harder and harder.
“I am absolutely astonished, flabbergasted, and so pleased with the support.
“It has been unbelievable – the Northern Ireland people – I can’t get over how good they are,” Mr McIlwaine added.
Other teams of volunteers covered parkland in the north of the city.
The missing man is described as being 5’8” in height; of medium build with blue eyes, dark hair and a beard. He also has sleeve tattoos on both arms. He was wearing a light coloured tee-shirt, blue denim shorts and flip-flops.
Mr McIlwaine’s aunt, Ann Taylor, said it was as if “he’s vanished into thin air,” and added: “But somebody knows something.”
She said: “I have been with the team searching Glencairn Park but we are no further on.
“We’ve found nothing. People have been very kind but we have got no new information.”
Ms Taylor added: “It’s a pleasure to have him as a nephew. I would say to anyone who knows anything, no matter what. Please just let us know where Dean is.”
A similar search organised by members of the Pride of the Hill Carnmoney flute band – covering the Carnmoney Hill area – was called off at the request of the PSNI.
A band spokesman said the police had concerns the band’s efforts could create difficulties for the search and rescue teams.
PSNI sergeant David Coulter said: “We would ask Dean, or anyone who has seen him or knows his whereabouts to make contact with police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 121 of 14/7/17.”