Government apologises to the family of Donegal soldier killed on UN duty 37 years ago

Report identifies failings and shortcomings in the Defence Forces operation

Staff Reporter


Staff Reporter

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

The late Hugh Doherty.

Defence minister Paul Kehoe has apologised to the family of a Donegal soldier who was shot dead 37 years ago in Lebanon after a report identified failings and shortcomings in the Defence Forces operation with UN forces.
The report by former High Court judge Roderick Murphy into the deaths of Privates Hugh Doherty from Letterkenny and Kevin Joyce from Co Galway was published today.
Privates Doherty and Joyce were killed on April 27th, 1981 near the village of Dyar Ntar in south Lebanon.
The two men were serving as members of the Irish Battalion with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).
The Minister with Responsibility for Defence said: “I want to thank Mr. Roderick Murphy for his thorough and very frank report. His determination in conducting extensive archival searches and in consulting with witnesses, ensures that this report is comprehensive and covers all the relevant issues. The report identifies a number of failings and shortcomings in the Defence Forces operation in UNIFIL at that time. It also highlights the manner in which these two soldiers were deployed in an isolated location. This should never have happened.
“I accept the findings and recommendations contained in the report and I want to assure the families, friends and colleagues of these two young soldiers, that important lessons have been learnt for the future. Errors that occurred at the time of the incident and, also, in the way the subsequent investigations were conducted and communicated, or indeed, not communicated, must never be repeated. In that regard, I am assured that many of the issues raised in the report have been addressed in the intervening years”.
The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett said: “I can assure both families that the hard lessons the Defence Forces have learned from this tragic event continue to shape how we train and prepare our personnel for overseas service today and into the future”.
In his report, Mr. Roderick Murphy acknowledged that he had received the fullest co-operation from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces in the course of conducting his review.
Copies of the report were provided to the Doherty and Seoighe families ahead of publication to allow them time to consider the findings.
The minister met both families in Galway last week, to give them a copy of the report, to go through the recommendations and hear the families concerns. Speaking in light of that meeting, the Minister said: "I want to repeat my apology to both families for the pain and suffering they endured following the tragic loss of their loved ones and I would like to thank them for their patience and cooperation in the completion of this review. I would also like to appeal to the media to respect the privacy of both families following the publication of the report."