Still waiting for report on death of Donegal soldier 36 years on

Friends of a Donegal soldier killed in 1981 in Lebanon ask why the report into his death has not been published

By Declan Magee

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By Declan Magee

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Still waiting for report on death of Donegal soldier 36 years on

The late Hugh Doherty

By Declan Mageenews'donegaldemocrat.com@dgldemocrat

Former colleagues of a Donegal soldier killed in Lebanon while on UN duty in 1981 have called for the publication of a report into his death more than 18 months after it was passed to the defence minister.

Retired High Court Judge Mr. Roderick Murphy carried out a review of the investigation into the death of Private Hugh Doherty, from Letterkenny, and the disappearance of Private Kevin Joyce in April 1981 while they were serving as members of the Irish Battalion with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).

The report was presented to the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney in June 2015 but was not published by him or his successor, Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The review of the investigation followed a campaign by family members and former colleagues of the soldiers who believed the deaths were not adequately probed.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference of the review included an examination of two inquiries - a UN board of inquiry and an investigation by the Defence Forces.

Private Hugh Doherty died of gunshot wounds near the village of Dyar Ntar while manning an observation post.

Private Doherty had only been in the country five days.

The Department of Defence has said it has sought and received legal advice from the Attorney General in relation to the publication of the report.

The draft report was forwarded on a confidential basis to the families and former colleagues of the two men and further legal advice has been sought from the attorney general.

Former soldier Michael Walker, from Dungloe, saw Hugh Doherty on the day he died. He is one of a number of former soldiers who have been in contact with the department seeking information on the publication. He said the delays in the publication of the report are unacceptable and he has called on the department to release it as soon as possible.

Mr Walker and other former soldiers were interviewed by the retired judge for the report.

He said that when the report was sent to the minister it was believed it would have been released within months.

“They (the department) are just saying that it is with the attorney general and that they received legal advice from the attorney general and they are awaiting more advice on other issues,” he said.
He said he was not aware what the issues are.
Mr Walker has also written to the taoiseach's’ office asking for Enda Kenny to intervene and see that the report is released.
“This has been going on too long and it is very frustrating. After it went to the attorney general’s office we thought it might have been five or six months but it is now more than a year and a half.”

“They (the department) are just saying that it is with the attorney general and that they received legal advice from the attorney general and they are awaiting more advice on other issues,” he said.
He said he was not aware what the issues are.
Mr Walker has also written to the taoiseach's’ office asking for Enda Kenny to intervene and see that the report is released.
“This has been going on too long and it is very frustrating. After it went to the attorney general’s office we thought it might have been five or six months but it is now more than a year and a half.”