Dáil debates

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Other Questions

Defence Forces Inquiries.

4:00 pm

Photo of Dinny McGinleyDinny McGinley (Donegal South West, Fine Gael)
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Question 12: To ask the Minister for Defence the status of the investigation into the death of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2755/07]

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Question 57: To ask the Minister for Defence whether the Garda investigation into the death of a person (details supplied) has been completed; if so, the findings of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2935/07]

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Minister, Department of Defence; Limerick East, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 57 together.

On 2 February 2006, I received a report from Mr. Seán Hurley, whom I had appointed to carry out an independent review of the interaction between the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces and the parents and family of Private Kevin Barrett in the aftermath of his tragic death on 18 February 1999 while serving with the 84th Infantry Battalion in Lebanon. Mr. Hurley looked in detail at how the Department and the Defence Forces interacted with the Barrett family after Kevin's death and has identified some clear failings and shortcomings.

Immediately on receipt of Mr. Hurley's report, I contacted the Garda Commissioner and asked him to provide me with his early views on any possible assistance the Garda Síochána might be in a position to provide. A Garda officer was assigned to the case to examine the files held by my Department and the Defence Forces on the case, with a view to determining whether the Garda could provide any assistance in the matter. Liaison arrangements were set up between the Garda and the Defence Forces, which continued to provide the fullest co-operation to the Garda.

Arising from an examination by the Garda of the available material, the investigation team identified a number of lines of inquiry. These included re-interviewing all witnesses who were in the vicinity when Private Barrett died, identifying any other witnesses not previously interviewed and a ballistic examination of the billet where Private Barrett died and the firearm used.

The Garda investigation was recently completed and the Garda Commissioner has indicated in a letter to me that, having re-interviewed Professor Hiss, the pathologist who carried out the post mortem examination, and having obtained the expert opinion of the State Pathologist, Dr. Cassidy, along with the results of the detailed examination of the billet, the Garda investigation reached a number of conclusions. The most significant conclusion was that the investigators are satisfied that the original findings were correct and there is no evidence to suggest any third party involvement in the death of Private Barrett. The detective chief superintendent who investigated the case is now arranging to meet members of the family to brief them on the investigation. My Department has remained in contact with the family throughout the investigation. I have offered to meet the family and arrangements are being made in that regard.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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I thank the Minister for commissioning the report and hope it will bring some conclusion to the Barrett family. I extend my sincere sympathies to Private Barrett's parents on the tragic death of their son.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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I thank the Minister for bringing the report to a conclusion and for commissioning the Garda inquiry. I extend my condolences to the family of Private Barrett.