Written Answers. - Defence Forces Accidents.

Jack Wall

Question:

351 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Defence the current position regarding the investigation into the helicopter crash at Tramore beach, County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20594/00]

The publication last week of the final report by the air accident investigation unit – AAIU – of the Department of Public Enterprise into the accident at Tramore, County Waterford on 2 July 1999 in which four members of the Air Corps, Captain David O'Flaherty, Captain Michael Baker, Sergeant Paddy Mooney and Corporal Niall Byrne, were tragically killed, evoked many sad memories for the families of the victims, for the Defence Forces and for the public in general. I would like to avail of this opportunity to again pay tribute to these brave young men who gave their lives in the service of others and to express my sympathy to the families for their sad and tragic losses. The purpose of the investigation was to determine the circumstances and cause, or causes, of the accident in order to prevent future such accidents.

The report, which is a very comprehensive and detailed document, is being studied in my Department at present. The safety recommendations set out in the report which call for action by the Department and the Defence Forces are being considered as a matter of priority with a view to their immediate implementation.

In addition to the aforementioned investigation, a military court of inquiry was convened to inquire into the circumstances of the accident. Its main thrust will be an examination of both the final report of the AAIU and the coroner's report. The work of the military court of inquiry will, therefore, now proceed following publication of the final report of the AAIU. The court of inquiry must also await the Coroner's Court findings.