Sir, - My name is Christina de Róiste. I am 83 years old. In January this year I buried my husband, Sean Roche. We had four children, the best known of whom is our youngest daughter, Adi Roche, who has done much work for the children of Chernobyl.

Many of your readers will recall how, during the presidential election of 1997, the issue of my eldest son Donal's forced "retirement" from the Irish Army, by order of President Eamon de Valera, was introduced in a way aimed at damaging Adi's candidacy. It was a cynical and spiteful tactic employed to wound and ultimately destroy her campaign.

Whoever leaked the information, however, has only served to strengthen my resolve to support Donal in his long and very lonely efforts to clear his name. Since 1969 I have written letters to the Department of Defence pleading Donal's innocence and asking that he simply be given the opportunity to defend his reputation in accordance with his Constitutional rights. My efforts and Donal's have largely been ignored. That, however, is changing since his family, including his children in the United States, have vowed to fight for justice and for Donal's basic human rights.

I believe my son Donal is innocent. I believe he was wrongfully "retired". I believe the case against him was so spurious that he was denied proper procedures. I believe the Government may have been misled in the information presented to it by Donal's accusors and that our one-time great hero, Eamon de Valera, may, in turn, have been wrongly advised.

I have written to An Taoiseach informing him of the great sadness which this incident brought into our family, especially how the stigma of Donal's presidential retirement "in the interests of the service" destroyed his relationship with his father. I have pleaded with An Taoiseach to release Donal's files so that he can, at last, address the unspecified charges against him.

I am pleading with Mr Ahern and the Irish State to allow me to join my husband, knowing that "in the interests and in the service" of truth and justice, our eldest son was, at least, given a fair chance to face his accusers and confront their accusations.

Sean and I brought our family up to be decent and caring citizens, and proud to be Irish. I think we did a reasonably good job. Sean would have been very proud of the fact that both the President and An Taoiseach were represented at his funeral. Is it too much to ask of our political leaders that they do the decent and honourable thing by allowing our son to clear his name? - Is mise,



Bellevue Park,