One month extension granted for report on soldiers’ deaths

Inquiry reviewing killings of Ptes Hugh Doherty and Kevin Joyce now due end May

A retired judge was appointed by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney to examine what happened on April 27th 1981 when Privates Hugh Doherty and Kevin Joyce were killed in south Lebanon.

A retired judge was appointed by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney to examine what happened on April 27th 1981 when Privates Hugh Doherty and Kevin Joyce were killed in south Lebanon.

 

Former High Court Judge Roderick Murphy has received an extension to complete his review of the circumstances of the deaths 34 years ago of two Irish soldiers in Lebanon and of the subsequent investigations.

The retired judge was appointed in December by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney to examine what happened on April 27th 1981 when Privates Hugh Doherty and Kevin Joyce were killed in south Lebanon and to review all elements of the inquiries into their deaths.

The judge was due to report back to the Minister by the end of April.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Defence said “Mr Justice Murphy has received an extension of one month to complete his report”.

The two soldiers, serving with the Defence Forces on a UN-sponsored mission were out on security duty on their own when they were shot and killed.

Private Joyce’s body was never recovered.

Mr Justice Murphy’s remit included examination of the two inquiries held in the wake of the deaths. One was a UN board of inquiry and the second investigation was carried out by the then director of operations for the Defence Forces.

Soldiers serving with the two men at the time sharply criticised the investigations. Pte Doherty’s family and a number of soldiers who served with him have campaigned for an independent inquiry into the circumstances of the killings and his family claimed a cover-up by the Army.

No reason was given for the month’s extension but part of the retired judge’s remit included interviewing any persons relevant to the case.

It is understood Mr Justice Murphy has interviewed a number of former Defence Forces personnel serving in Lebanon at the time, who were not interviewed at the time of the killings, and who shared accommodation with the two soldiers.

The review is similar to that conducted by senior counsel Frank Callinan in 2011 into a separate Defence Forces tragedy in 1989 when three soldiers were killed in a landmine incident.