Thursday, 5 February 2004

Ceisteanna (23)

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

18 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Defence the progress made to date in the investigation into the circumstances in which a number of civilians came into contact with an unexploded tear gas canister near firing ranges at the Curragh; if the device had been used by military personnel based at the US embassy; the number of occasions in each of the past five years in which such personnel have been allowed to use Defence Forces property; if terms or conditions are attached to such use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3307/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Defence)

The matter to which the Deputy refers is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the military police. I am advised by the military authorities that the investigation will be completed as soon as outstanding statements are taken from the relevant parties.

My understanding is that the device to which the Deputy refers was discovered following the use of the range, on a courtesy basis, by military personnel from the US embassy. Military personnel are required to discharge their personal service weapons at least once a year and US embassy personnel have used the Army range on five occasions over the past five years in this regard.

The arrangements for the use of the range are agreed in advance following a request from the US embassy. The use of the range on the day is monitored and controlled by a range supervisor from the Defence Forces, in accordance with standing Defence Forces' practices.

As it is now some time since this event occurred, I have asked the military authorities to expedite their investigation and to submit a report to me as soon as possible. Once the current investigation is completed, I will consider whatever recommendations may be made to me in relation to the ongoing management and control of military ranges.