Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Questions (119)

Finian McGrath

Question:

219 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs about the Shot At Dawn Campaign (details supplied) pardons issue; if there are further developments from the British authorities. [25743/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

In the period since the Deputy's last question on this matter in September 2003, officials from my Department travelled to London to meet the Ministry of Defence with a view to exploring how best to make progress on this issue. Our aim is to restore the good names of the Irishmen concerned.

The Ministry of Defence responded positively to our request for certified copies of the files for the courts-martial of the 26 Irish soldiers executed by the British Army during the First World War, although one file could not be located. Much of the information on the files supplied by the Ministry of Defence, including the transcripts of the courts-martial trials, is hand written and therefore difficult at times to decipher. However, the files provide us with a detailed and often harrowing picture of the circumstances in which these unfortunate men found themselves.

My Department is finalising a report, which we intend to forward to the British side. The research on which the report is based substantiates the concerns about these cases, which moved us to support the Shot at Dawn Campaign. Once complete, this report will be passed to the British side and it is envisaged that further discussion will take place once they have had the necessary time to consider its contents. My officials have remained in close contact with the Shot at Dawn Campaign (Ireland) co-ordinator, Mr. Mulvany, throughout these deliberations, and will continue to update him regularly as developments arise in the period ahead.