State apologises for 1981 disappearance of Galway soldier

UN LEBANON missing soldier

Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe, T.D today published the independent review into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Galway soldier, Private Caomhán Seoighe on 27 April, 1981, while serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

He apologised for the suffering the family of the soldier went through after Private Caomhán Seoighe disappeared in Lebanon 37 years ago.

The report also looked into the death of Private Hugh Doherty.

“I want to repeat my apology to both families for the pain and suffering they endured following the tragic loss of their loved ones and I would like to thank them for their patience and cooperation in the completion of this review. I would also like to appeal to the media to respect the privacy of both families following the publication of the report,” said Minister Kehoe.

Retired High Court Judge, Mr. Roderick Murphy was appointed in January 2015 to conduct the independent review.

The final report was submitted to the Minister earlier this year and is now being published following consultation with the Attorney General’s office on all appropriate matters.

Commenting on the Report, Minister Kehoe stated: “I want to thank Mr. Roderick Murphy for his thorough and very frank report. His determination in conducting extensive archival searches and in consulting with witnesses, ensures that this report is comprehensive and covers all the relevant issues.

“The report identifies a number of failings and shortcomings in the Defence Forces operation in UNIFIL at that time. It also highlights the manner in which these two soldiers were deployed in an isolated location.

“This should never have happened.”

The Minister continued: “I accept the findings and recommendations contained in the report and I want to assure the families, friends and colleagues of these two young soldiers, that important lessons have been learnt for the future.

“Errors that occurred at the time of the incident and, also, in the way the subsequent investigations were conducted and communicated, or indeed, not communicated, must never be repeated. In that regard, I am assured that many of the issues raised in the report have been addressed in the intervening years.”

The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett said:“I can assure both families that the hard lessons the Defence Forces have learned from this tragic event continue to shape how we train and prepare our personnel for overseas service today and into the future”.

In his report, Mr. Roderick Murphy acknowledged that he had received the fullest co-operation from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces in the course of conducting his review.