Minister apologises to family of Donegal soldier killed in Lebanon

Pte Hugh Doherty, of Letterkenny, Co Donegal, who was killed in Lebanon

The State has formally apologised for the failings 37 years ago of Defence Forces operations, when a Donegal soldier was killed and another disappeared as they came under attack while manning an isolated observation post in Lebanon.

Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe apologised to the families of 20 year-old Private Hugh Doherty from Co Donegal who was shot dead in the incident on April 27th

The apology was also extended to Private Caomhán Seoige from the Aran Islands, who was abducted and whose body has never been recovered.

The attackers remain unknown.

The independent review was into the circumstances surrounding the attack on observation post west of the village of Dyar Ntar when the two men were part of the Irish Battalion serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

The review was carried out by retired High Court judge Roderick Murphy who criticised the failure of the Defence Forces to tell the families the results of investigations carried out into the tragedy at the time.

The Doherty family heard a rumour that Pte Seoige had shot their brother and this was "not assuaged until they met the Secretary General of the Department of Defence on July 1st, 2014".

This rumour "would not have had credence" if the family had been told the results of the investigation by Col Vincent Savino carried out from 1982 to 1984.

Mr Justice Murphy also described as "a mystery and a matter of great concern" that neither the original nor copies of the Savino report were in the military archives.

The judge, who interviewed more than 50 people and carried out extensive archival searches, also highlighted operational failings, criticised the lack of risk assessment and supervision of the unprotected observation post.

Minister Kehoe said he wanted to repeat his apology to both families for the pain and suffering they endured following the tragic loss of their loved ones and he would like to thank them for their patience and co-operation in the completion of this review".

In a statement Mr Kehoe said, "Errors that occurred at the time of the incident and also in the way the subsequent investigations were conducted and communicated, or not communicated, must never be repeated."