Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (148, 149, 150)

Olwyn Enright

Question:

264 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Defence if he has satisfied himself with the outcome of an inquiry in relation to an incident in the Glen of Imal on 27 November 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2067/04]

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Olwyn Enright

Question:

265 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Defence if he has satisfied himself that every soldier and officer involved in an incident in the Glen of Imal on the night of 27 November 2001 were treated fairly in subsequent inquiries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2068/04]

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Olwyn Enright

Question:

266 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Defence if he established the person responsible for the failure to carry out proper procedures that led to an incident in the Glen of Imal on the night of 27 November 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2069/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 264 to 266, inclusive, together.

During the course of an exercise on the night of 27 November 2001, a number of live rounds of ammunition were accidentally discharged and a member of the Defence Forces received bullet wounds to his arm and chest. A military ambulance was on site and the injured party was immediately treated by a qualified emergency medical technician before being transferred to Tallaght General Hospital and, subsequently, to St. James's Hospital, where he underwent treatment. Military police were immediately called to the scene and carried out a full investigation.

Arising from the military police investigation, charges were preferred under section 168 of the Defence Act 1954, against four members of the Defence Forces, an officer, two NCOs and a private, who were involved in the planning and execution of the military exercise during which the incident occurred. I am advised by the military authorities that the matter was dealt with summarily in accordance with military law, which provides for due and fair process. All four were found guilty. Three were punished by way of a severe reprimand and one was given a warning.

Where an incident involves injury to a member of the Defence Forces, a formal court of inquiry is convened to take evidence and to make recommendations as regards the matters referred to it. In this case, the court of inquiry has not been convened as the incident is currently the subject of a civil action in the courts. I am advised that, once the matter has been disposed of by the courts, a court of inquiry will be convened.