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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 25 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 6

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - IRA Pensions.


asked the Minister for Defence if he is aware that, although certifying officers and Old IRA colleagues testify that applicants for IRA pensions and special allowances are eligible for such awards, his Department have on numerous occasions rejected such evidence; and by what method and at what level in his Department decisions are taken to accept or reject such applications.

I take it that the Deputy's question relates to the investigation by my Department of applications for the Service (1917-1921) Medal without Bar, it being one of the conditions of eligibility for a special allowance that the applicant, if not otherwise qualified, must be the holder of a "duly awarded" Service Medal without Bar.

Since June, 1957, the system of investigation of entitlement to the Medal without Bar is that reports are sought from the surviving officers of the battalion and company of which the applicant claims to have been a member during the three months which ended on the 11th July, 1921. If no officers are available, members of the company who are pensioners under the Military Service Pensions Acts are approached. The reports received are evaluated in conjunction with the unit rolls furnished to the referee for the purposes of the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934 and other records. If there is no unfavourable report and the applicant is on the unit roll, the application is automatically granted. Even if the applicant is not on the roll, the application is generally granted if, on the roll position being brought to the notice of the officers, they maintain their verification. If conflicting reports are received the conflicts are resolved as far as possible by correspondence.

Medals were issued prior to June, 1957, under a less detailed system which experience showed to be unsatisfactory. Consequently, where an applicant for a special allowance is the holder of such a medal, his entitlement to it is reinvestigated under the current system. Recently, this re-investigation is being waived where the person is listed on the unit roll.

The decision to reject an application or to hold a pre-June, 1957 Medal not "duly awarded" is taken, after a most detailed examination and assessment of all the available evidence, by one senior officer of my Department, who records his reasons. Appeals by or on behalf of rejected applicants are submitted to me. Only rarely do I see reason to vary the decision.

Can the Minister say how many such medals were recalled as being not "duly awarded" since June, 1957?

I have given information on this point in the House on a few occasions. I am sure I could obtain the information again for the Deputy.

Are we to take it from the Minister's reply that those medals were carelessly given and are we to assume that if a holder of a medal applies for special allowances, his record in so far as his membership of the IRA is concerned would be reinvestigated?

The Deputy can take it that the cases were carefully investigated. The medals were issued on a different basis of investigation from that laid down in 1957.

Is the Minister aware that some people were, in fact, disgraced when their medals were withdrawn or when they were told that their medals had not been duly awarded?

I am not accepting that. I have previously given the number of medals without bar which were awarded and in the majority of cases the medals have been held on re-investigation to have been duly awarded. It is only in cases of doubt that there is a difficulty.

Is it not true that the medals were issued by General MacEoin and the irresponsible interParty Government?

I do not accept that.

That is a shameful remark.

Question No. 20 postponed.