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

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn For a lay person, as I am in this regard, reviewing matters is important. Some of the former members of the Defence Forces, some of whom I met with the family, have detailed and expert knowledge as they were serving members in the area. The circumstances of the events involved will never leave them and they have followed all of the investigations in great detail. This is not just about recovering the body of Private Joyce it is also about understanding what happened and what lessons are to be learned. The Minister will appreciate that the family has never had closure. I ask him to consider meeting one or two members who served at the time. It could prove to be a constructive meeting. They might, perhaps, provide the Minister with an agenda outlining some of their specific concerns so as to ensure the meeting would be constructive and that he could prepare in advance for it. I am sure they would work with him in that regard. If the meeting is to be productive and successful, he should allow one or, preferably, two of the Defence Force members who served in the area to meet him, with the family and other relevant members of the Defence Forces.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It is not necessary to give me a summary of the issues involved because I have read in full the concerns raised, the critique and the questions asked about some individuals not being questioned or given the opportunity to discuss matters. However, having read the report on file, I do not see how, so many years further on, a further discussion would add greater enlightenment to these events, nor would it in any way, from what I can see, facilitate identifying who the perpetrators might have been, whether it be the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Amal or some other group. I am not aware of anything raised that would add greater enlightenment in identifying those involved, nor do I see anything that would any more readily facilitate the finding of the remains of Private Joyce. It would be most unfair of me to give rise to a perception that there was something in all of this; that, having read things in great detail and after so many years, there is something that would resolve this mystery of exactly who was engaged in this event and where Private Joyce's remains were located, other than the conclusions reached in the report on file. However, I am happy to meet the family to discuss its concerns. I am also concerned, in circumstances where this terrible tragedy occurred and where there was the loss of two members of the Defence Forces, that false hope is not given that there is some new information that will provide greater enlightenment than what we now have. Even if some of this information is correct, it is not clear that it will lead us to a helpful conclusion in bringing closure for the families.

Defence Forces Operations

 131. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if the Defence Forces personnel who were on duty on the runway at Shannon Airport on 22 February and 2 March conducted searches of US military aircraft. [13718/14]

 138. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason Defence forces personnel were stationed in front of US warplanes at Shannon airport on 22 February 2014 and 2 March 2014; and if any inspections of the aircraft took place. [12966/14]

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly This question relates to the role of Defence Forces personnel at Shannon Airport, an issue highlighted by the heroic Margaretta D'Arcy. I welcome her release from prison and acknowledge the role she played in defending Ireland's neutrality. While she was in prison, on a number of occasions Defence Forces personnel were present in front of US aircraft at Shannon Airport. I hope the Minister will tell me they were there to conduct searches of the aircraft because it appeared that they were there to protect them.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 138 together.

An Garda Síochána has primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces is the provision of aid for the civil power, ATCP, which, in practice, means to assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. There is ongoing and close liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces regarding security matters. The Defence Forces have deployed personnel to Shannon Airport in response to requests for support from An Garda Síochána since 5 February 2003.

In respect of the dates of 22 February and 2 March 2014, requests for Defence Forces support were received from An Garda Síochána. With regard to inspections of aircraft, the Defence Forces have no responsibility for searching US military aircraft that land at Shannon Airport.

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