Coveney welcomes US arrest of suspect in Irish soldiers’ murder

Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne shot dead in south Lebanon 34 years ago

Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 15:48

Pte Barrett’s daughter Karen Barrett said this morning her family were “still in complete shock” at the news which is “34 years in the making”.

The family was still having to be “realistic” that he has only been detained for documentation violation, she said.

Ms Barrett said they had always been told they had done all they could legally in Ireland as Mr Bazzi would have to be returned to where the crimes were committed. “Unfortunately there’s no extradition between the US and Lebanon....the door has always been closed,” she told RTÉ Radio.

She hoped it would be the “first step” in getting justice for her father, for Derek Smallhorne and for John O’Mahoney.

Ms Barrett said the family have sought justice for her father’s killing for the past 34 years and exhausted all avenues in the Irish legal system.

Mr Coveney looked forward to speaking with both families “in the coming days” . He said the matter had been “continually pursued” over the years with all available channels in the Lebanon and US by successive Ministers for Defence, Foreign Affairs, officials and military authorities.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny raised the issue with the Lebanese authority during a recent visit to Irish troops serving with UNIFIL, he said.

He said thoughts should be with the families of Privates Barrett and Smallhorne whose efforts and those of comrades “have ensured this issue was never forgotten”.

Campaigning on the families behalf, a group called Justice for Smallhorne and Barrett, met with American officials in Dublin last month to request US action against Bazzi.

Earlier this month, hundreds of retired Irish soldiers held a peaceful vigil outside the US embassy in Dublin in a bid to highlight the issue.

Ms Barrett said the families are ‘eternally grateful’ to the support group for their commitment and described the 34 year campaign for justice as ‘extremely difficult.’

“At the end of day we know in our own mind, we know we’ve done all we can. We feel let down by the Irish Government. In 34 years the laws could have been changed and they haven’t been,”she said.

“What we don’t want to happen is that Bazzi is held on red tape. The Americans say he will be deported - but we don’t want him deported to a country other than Lebanon,” she said.