Review of Army deaths to begin

 

Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter has appointed a senior counsel to a carry out a new independent review of the deaths of three Irish soldiers killed in Lebanon while serving on peace-keeping duties in 1989.

Frank Callanan SC is to report back to the Minister with his findings on or before August 19th.

Cpl Fintan Heneghan, Pte Mannix Armstrong and Pte Thomas Walsh died on March 21st, 1989, when their lorry struck a landmine believed to have been planted in south Lebanon by the Hizbullah militant group.

Allegations were later made that the road had not been swept for landmines and the families demanded an inquiry.

The department conducted an inquiry in 2003, in which it examined its own records of the incident, and concluded no further inquiry was necessary.

Pte Armstrong’s family is pursuing legal action against the Army, and, according to the department, further evidence came to light in the course of the Army preparing its defence.

The review will include an examination of all relevant documents and interviews with such persons as the reviewer considers necessary, Mr Shatter said.

Mr Shatter said he had given the families a commitment that he would inform them of the identity of the person carrying out the review before making any further statement. Senior officials have already met the families, he said.

Meanwhile, the case came before Mr Justice Quirke for mention in the High Court earlier this month. It was adjourned by consent between the parties.