Irishman planned to take part in bodyguard course

 

MIKE DWYER travelled to Bolivia from Ireland with a number of men who returned home when a bodyguard course they had expected to attend did not take place. However, Mr Dwyer stayed on in the country.

Mr Dwyer’s family said yesterday they believed he travelled to Bolivia from Ireland with 15 people. The Irish Timesunderstands the 24-year-old left Dublin in November, and flew to Madrid.

From Spain he flew to the Bolivian capital, La Paz, with three companions he had worked with in Ireland. It is unclear when the other 11 men who the Dwyer family believe were in the party went to Bolivia.

Sources who knew Mr Dwyer said the three men they were certain he travelled with were not Irish. Two were Hungarian and one was a Polish national.

One of these men knew Eduardo Rozsa Flores, the 49-year-old man killed with Mr Dwyer in Bolivia last week and whom the authorities there described as the leader of the group. One source said he believed Mr Dwyer may have met Flores in Bolivia through their mutual Hungarian friend.

The three men Mr Dwyer flew to Bolivia with came back to Ireland when they realised the bodyguard course they had travelled to participate in was not going to take place. One source described it as a “course that never was”.

“They spent most of their time by a lake and canoeing – that kind of thing. Two of them changed their tickets and came home early, and the other guy waited a few weeks and came home on his original ticket. Michael was having a good time and he stayed on out there.”

After remaining on in Bolivia, it is understood that Mr Dwyer was employed as a security guard or bodyguard by Mr Flores. The exact nature of what they were doing is not clear. The Bolivian authorities have claimed they were mercenaries attempting to kill President Evo Morales.

Mr Dwyer and the three men he travelled with are believed to have paid their own airfares to Madrid. One source who spoke to The Irish Timessaid he believed the four tickets on to La Paz were paid for by a separate party but he did not know who this was.

All of the four had previously worked for a security firm based in Naas, Co Kildare, called Integrated Risk Management Services Ltd (I-RMS). It is best known for having provided security at Shell’s controversial Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo in recent years.

The contracts of many security workers at the Mayo site expired last October because security was scaled back when construction ceased.

Mr Dwyer and the three men he travelled to Bolivia with were out of work in October and decided to go to Bolivia the next month for the bodyguard course.

I-RMS confirmed in a statement to The Irish Timesthat Mr Dwyer had worked for the company. It said he was employed as a security guard at the Corrib gas construction site from March to mid-October last year after answering a Fás employment advert.

I-RMS said he had been working as a pub doorman when he joined them. The firm hired him after a full Garda check and after examining his Private Security Authority of Ireland licence.

The statement described him as a “focused student” who worked to pay his way through college at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, from which he graduated as a construction engineer. His employment ended with them on October 20th last.

There is no suggestion whatever that I-RMS organised the men’s trip to Bolivia.