Dwyer in Bolivia on 'training course'

 

Michael Dwyer, the 24-year-old Co Tipperary man shot dead by police in Bolivia, travelled to the country from Ireland last November with a group of up to 17 people, The Irish Timeshas learned.

Sources closes to the Dwyer family have said Mr Dwyer told them he was going to Bolivia for a three-month training course linked to his work in the security industry. He suggested to the family he was going to Bolivia at the behest of an employer here.

However, it has now emerged he paid for his own flights to Bolivia and there is no information at this point to suggest he was in the country doing a course for a company.

Mr Dwyer’s family are now trying to contact some of the Irish people the dead man travelled to Bolivia with. It appears Mr Dwyer broke away from the group and took up local work.

Shortly after arriving in Bolivia Mr Dwyer posted photographs on his Bebo site of himself in the country with other people with a Caucasian appearance.

He had worked for at least two Irish security companies before he travelled to South America at the end of last year. He had been employed on a part-time basis with Integrated Risk Management Services (IRMS).

They are a well-known company based in Naas, Co Kildare, headed by a former member of the Army Ranger Wing. The company has been best-known in recent years as the security provider to Shell at its controversial Corrib gas pipeline project in Co Mayo.

It is unclear if Mr Dwyer worked at the Shell site in Co Mayo, but a number of local sources said they believed he had worked there for a period.

When contacted, a spokesman at the company declined to confirm any details of Mr Dwyer’s employment. The spokesman said Mr Dwyer’s family had asked for privacy and IRMS wanted to respect their wishes.

However, The Irish Timesunderstands Mr Dwyer last worked for IRMS in the first half of last year. When his contract expired, he then left the company. A source close to the company said he was not working for IRMS when he went to Bolivia and that the company had never sent anybody to Bolivia.

Mr Dwyer also worked for a now-defunct company in Oranmore, Co Galway, called Praetorian Security. It was one of the biggest firms in Ireland, supplying security to pubs and nightclubs. Last June, the Private Security Authority suspended its licence over failure to meet all its tax compliance obligations.

The dead man had also trained as bodyguard.

Mr Dwyer worked part-time as a pub security guard while he was studying construction management in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. When he graduated last year, he worked in security full-time in Ireland before travelling to Bolivia at the end of last year.

It appears that while in Bolivia Mr Dwyer was offered security work by Eduardo Rózsa Flores, a Bolivian with Croat nationality who grew up in Hungary.

The 49-year-old was killed with Mr Dwyer in a Santa Cruz hotel last Thursday. A veteran of the Balkans conflict, he has been described as the leader of the group of alleged mercenaries the Bolivians say were plotting to kill their president, Evo Morales. The nature of Mr Dwyer’s work, and what the group were doing in Santa Cruz, remains unclear.

A third man killed in the incident last week was today identified as a Romanian citizen.

The Romanian Foreign Ministry said it had received official confirmation that one of those shot was a Romanian citizen, but had received no clarification from Bolivia on the circumstances of his death.

It declined to name him.

Mr Dwyer's parents said tonight that they hoped an inquiry into his death would clear his name.

In an interview with RTÉ news, Martin and Caroline Dwyer dismissed suggestions that their son had been involved in a plot to kill the president of Bolivia.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous. There’s no way Michael was ever involved in anything like that,” Mrs Dwyer said.

Mr Dwyer said he was disgusted that pictures of his son's body appeared in newspapers after his death.

He said Michael would not have been capable of taking part in a shoot-out with state security forces.

“We spoke to Michael Martin ourselves yesterday, he phoned, and we said that to him, that we would like to have some answers, whatever they could come up with.

“I think it’s a good idea having an inquiry. Hopefully something will come out of it then, to try and clear his name.”