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 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel (Continued)
 Header Item Defence Forces Fatalities

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl] I hope there will be some flexibility on the Minister's part in how he approaches the negotiations on the individuals in question.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy is aware, I cannot comment; it would be inappropriate for me to do so during the negotiations. What he is raising and, in effect, protesting against is a policy that his party stood over in government for over 14 years. It is quite extraordinary that he should now be exercised about this matter from the Opposition benches. What I am exercised about is ensuring we follow proper procedures within the conciliation and arbitration service. It is intended to finalise negotiations with the representative associations within the next few weeks and it is important that I say no more about that aspect of the matter. The Deputy is correct that we have within the Defence Forces some very well qualified personnel in various technical areas and it is these qualifications which facilitate them in gaining employment. Some of the states the Deputy has mentioned where members of their defence forces at lower levels are 55 or 60 years of age have far bigger defence forces than we do. Our objective is to have a force with a strength of 9,500. Is the Deputy seriously suggesting it is in the interests of the State or the public interest to have the substantial majority of members of the Defence Forces in the 50 to 60 year age group?

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Minister knows that I am not.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter We are recruiting 400 new members to the Defence Forces this year by virtue of the fact that certain numbers retire annually and that we can bring new young people into the Defence Forces and give them job opportunities that are not currently available to them.

Defence Forces Fatalities

 126. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will outline all efforts by the Defence Forces and his Department to follow up on an initiative from PDFORRA in March 2001 aimed at recovering the body of a person (details supplied) when they met the then Minister for the Displaced in the Lebanese Government, Marwan Hamadeh, in the Lebanon.  [13081/14]

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn I have discussed this matter previously with the Minister. Two members of the Defence Forces, Private Hugh Doherty and Private Kevin Joyce, were killed on 27 April 1981 in Dyar Ntar, a village in south Lebanon. I wish to probe the efforts made to date by the Defence Forces and Governments to follow up on a meeting held in 2001 on the initiative of PDFORRA with representatives in Lebanon, including the Minister for the Displaced, Marwan Hamadeh. It was an important initiative and it appeared progress had been made, but I wish to hear what has happened since.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy is aware, Private Kevin Joyce was killed on 27 April 1981 in the village of Dayr Ntar in south Lebanon. An observation post at Dayr Ntar, near As Sultaniyah, manned by Private Hugh Doherty and Private Kevin Joyce came under attack. Private Doherty was later found dead from gunshot wounds and Private Joyce was missing. Some equipment was also missing. The attackers are unknown. The incident and the disappearance of Private Joyce have been the subject of ongoing investigation by successive Irish units with UNIFIL. Specific efforts include an immediate response and search by the contingent then serving with UNIFIL, follow-up searches and inquiries by contingents with UNIFIL, a Military Police investigation in 1985, an intensive investigation by the 88th Battalion in 2000 to 2001, and a senior officer delegation in 2005, assisted by diplomatic efforts at the highest level, to endeavour to locate the whereabouts of Private Joyce. In November 2000 the 88th Infantry Battalion conducted an investigation, the conduct of which was made easier by the withdrawal of the Israeli defence forces from south Lebanon and the consequent freedom of movement in the area. Various leads were followed on the ground and representations made to the Palestinian Authority through diplomatic channels. In March 2001 contact was made with the leading members of the Fatah organisation in Lebanon. The Fatah group claimed it had not beem responsible for the disappearance of Private Joyce. However, it stated it had information on the whereabouts of Private Joyce’s body. Unfortunately, the information did not materialise. The next battalion - the 89th Infantry Battalion - continued to maintain contact with Fatah but, yet again, it was unable to gain any positive information.

  A senior officer delegation travelled to Beirut in May 2005 and met various people, including the then force commander of UNIFIL, a Lebanese army liaison officer and the Honorary Irish Consul, Mr. Daouk. They also met the leader of Fatah in Lebanon, Brigadier General Sultan Al Anien, who declared that he knew the burial site of Private Joyce. Unfortunately, the follow-up inquiries from this visit did not yield positive results.

  Additional information not given on the floor of the House

  In 2007 the then Minister for Defence visited the Lebanon and met the Lebanese Minister of Defence, Mr. Elias Murr. The Minister raised with him the disappearance of Private Joyce. Mr. Murr assured the Minister that his government would assist in whatever way possible to locate the whereabouts of Private Joyce. In the past the authorities in Lebanon have made efforts to obtain information on the whereabouts of Private Joyce, including broadcasting pictures of him on television. To date, despite all of these inquiries, no information has been elicited leading to the recovery of Private Joyce. However, I am advised by the military authorities that even though it is now nearly 33 years since this tragic event happened, the case remains open. Efforts are made from time to time in Lebanon to establish the location of Private Joyce’s remains and, if located, efforts will be made to repatriate them. The Department will continue to make every effort to bring this tragic case to a conclusion.


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