This is the full statement issued by Mickey Harte, on behalf of his wife Marian and his three sons Mark, Michael, and Matthew.
“We are devastated but heartened by the support we have got throughout the community, throughout the GAA community, throughout the wider community in the north, throughout Ireland and across the water.
“We are grateful for that. Thank God for great people.
“Michaela was a lovely girl, a wonderful daughter, a brilliant sister for these boys and we will always treasure her.
“She was a beautiful girl. She couldn’t be better, couldn’t be nicer. God love her, we are so, so sorry.
“We are equally sorry for poor John her husband whom she adored. He adored her.
“They did not get so long to share their lives with each other. It is such a shame. Our hearts are broken.
“A lot of people have had this experience before. We have tried to empathise with them. But you can’t get the feeling unless you have been there.
“And God save anybody having to go to this place.
“But we thank God for the people who are there, the support that is there, and the prayers that are there. We know they are coming in thick and fast, and it is so good at this time. We need that.
“And we need the bit of privacy now. This is how we feel.
“Many people have felt like this in the past and this is our day to bear the cross.
“We just loved our Michaela. She was such a good girl. Every father says that about their daughter, but I can say that without a shadow of doubt.
“She was a gem and we will always remember her.
“What a day she had on her wedding day. She was just radiant, a beautiful girl, and I just love her to bits. So did her whole family. We are so devastated.
“The McAreavey family are so special to us to. There is a special bond. John is a special lad. You have to be special if you’re going to be Michaela’s husband.
“John is out in Mauritius. He is isolated out there. It has been an awful time. Our hearts go out to him and I would ask everyone to please respect his privacy.
“The lad is devastated. He is our son-in-law. He is a wonderful young man. Please lay off.
“We are speaking on his behalf. We are devastated. Through us, he wants us to say to leave him alone. He is in such a lonely place and even his own family members are not out there yet.
“I have had 27 years with a lovely wonderful girl, who grew up into a beautiful lady. She was radiant and so, so special. She will always be special to me and this family.
“We will miss her so much. But we will love her to bits. Her spirit is with us. It has to be now. How else could I say this, if it wasn’t.
“This is the worst nightmare that anyone can imagine. If you think things can be bad, then you go beyond that because that is where we are.
“This is too horrible to contemplate. We are just all devastated. It is the worst of the worst and our hearts are broken.”