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Overseas Missions.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 29 September 2005

Thursday, 29 September 2005

Questions (71, 72, 73)

Pat Breen

Question:

64 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Defence the requests, he has had since September 2004 for Irish troops to participate in exercises abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25681/05]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Defence)

Defence Forces personnel have participated in a number of staff, technical and crisis management exercises in the context of both the EU and PfP. They have for many years attended workshops, training courses, desktop exercises, seminars and other events overseas as part of their military training and I expect that they will continue to do so. The purpose of such training is to learn from best practice in other defence forces and includes improving the level of inter-operability between forces in the context of peace support operations and the Petersberg Tasks. In accordance with stated policy, the Defence Forces do not participate in multinational military field exercises. However, from an optimum readiness perspective, this may need to change if we wish to participate fully and effectively in EU battlegroups-rapid response elements. The question of joint training missions with the forces of other member states is among the issues being reviewed by the interdepartmental group I have established to examine the full implications of Ireland's potential participation in EU rapid reaction elements.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

65 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Defence if he will report on the circumstances surrounding the death of a person (details supplied) in Lebanon in February 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25616/05]

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Billy Timmins

Question:

154 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Defence the circumstances surrounding the death of a person (details supplied) in Lebanon in February 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26048/05]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 65 and 154 together.

The case to which the Deputies refer is that of Private Kevin Barrett, who died on 18 February 1999 while serving with the 84th Infantry Battalion, UNIFIL, in Lebanon. I am advised that the circumstances surrounding Private Kevin Barrett's death are as follows. Private Kevin Barrett's battalion was carrying out a tour of duty in south Lebanon from October 1998 to May 1999. On the evening of 17 February 1999 after normal duties, Private Barrett, in the company of number of other soldiers went to the "C" company HQ canteen for the evening. They were driven back to their post in the early hours of 18 February 1999. Private Barrett went to his accommodation, which he shared with another soldier, who was asleep at the time. Shortly afterwards, another colleague visited Private Barrett and they were chatting for some minutes. Private Barrett discharged his weapon while his colleague was not looking. Medical help was summoned and Private Barrett was pronounced dead.

The death of Private Barrett was the subject of a UN board of inquiry and an Irish contingent board of inquiry as well as a military police investigation. The coroner for north-west Donegal held an inquest into the death of Private Barrett from 5 to 8 September 2005. The jury returned an open verdict. I am advised that the military authorities co-operated fully with the inquest into the soldier's death.

Question No. 66 answered with QuestionNo. 29.
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