Coveney given report into 1981 killing of soldiers in Lebanon

Review carried out following campaign by family, soldiers critical of original inquiry

Kevin Joyce and Hugh Doherty were killed while serving on a UN mission in south Lebanon.

Kevin Joyce and Hugh Doherty were killed while serving on a UN mission in south Lebanon.

 

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has received the report into the killing of two Irish soldiers in Lebanon 34 years ago.

Former High Court judge Roderick Murphy was appointed by the Minister to examine the circumstances of the deaths on April 27th 1981 of Privates Kevin Joyce and Hugh Doherty who were killed while serving on a UN mission in south Lebanon. Mr Justice Murphy also reviewed all elements of the subsequent inquiries into their deaths.

Mr Coveney will review the report and its conclusions, but no date has been give for its publication.

The retired judge was commissioned in December to conduct the review including any relevant persons and was originally scheduled to submit his report at the end of April.

Following an extension of the deadline the retired judge has submitted his report to Mr Coveney, who thanked him for his review.

Private Joyce’s body was never recovered in the incident in which the two men were shot while out on security duty on their own. Private Joyce, from Co Mayo, had just one week left of his six months tour of duty when he was killed while Private Doherty was five days into his first tour of duty on the mission.

The review of the incident included an examination of the two inquiries following the men’s deaths including a UN board of inquiry and a subsequent investigation carried out by the then director of operations for the Defence Forces.

Mr Justice Murphy is understood to have interviewed a number of former Defence Forces personnel serving in Lebanon with the two soldiers, who were not interviewed at the time, even though under the terms of reference of the UN inquiry they would have been included.

Private Doherty’s family and a number of soldiers who served with him have campaigned for an independent inquiry and his family claimed an Army cover-up.

They sought from the Minister and received a review 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.

Last month Mr Coveney attended the unveiling of a memorial on Inis Oirr, Co Galway of Private Joyce. “”Saighdiúr Singil Caomhán Seoighe” was inscribed on the limestone sculpture.