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Lebanon will do 'everything in their power' to pursue justice over killing of Irish soldiers

Privates Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett were killed by the South Lebanon Army in an attack in 1980.

Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Conor O'Boyle lays a wreath in memory of the forty seven (47) Irish Soldiers who died on Peacekeeping Duties in Lebanon at the Memorial in Tibnin last year.
Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Conor O'Boyle lays a wreath in memory of the forty seven (47) Irish Soldiers who died on Peacekeeping Duties in Lebanon at the Memorial in Tibnin last year.

THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE Simon Coveney said that he has been assured by the Lebanese Government that they will do “everything in their power to pursue” the case of the killing of two Irish soldiers in 1980.

Privates Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett were killed by the South Lebanon Army in an attack in which another Irish soldier was also injured.

The two men were also tortured when captured by an SLA unit that had stopped a UN convoy in war-torn Lebanon near the Israeli border.

Ambush

The ambush is believed to have been a revenge attack after a fatal gun battle between SLA and UN troops in the weeks previous.

It was announced in August that the man suspected of killing two Irish UN peacekeepers is to be deported from the US for Visa violations.

Speaking today in his first visit to the Irish troops in Lebanon since he took office, Coveney said he met with Lebanese Minister for Justice and senior officials and today he will meet with the Lebanese Minister for Defence.

Minister Coveney welcomed the deep sympathy and concern expressed by all he met for the tragic deaths.

Concerns 

“It was clear from all the meetings I have had here that the matter is being taken very seriously and I welcome the assurances I have receive in the past two days from the Lebanese Government authorities that they share my concerns and will do everything in their power to pursue this case,” the said Coveney.

The minister also laid a wreath to all those members of the Defence Forces who died on overseas service in Lebanon. The roll call of the names of the 47 Irish soldiers who died in Lebanon in the service of UNIFIL is “both moving and humbling” said the minister.

He commended the troops, stating:

You serve today in what is one of the most volatile areas of the world, where conflict can strike at any time.  At this time, southern Lebanon is stable, due in large part to the effective and successful work of the peace keepers in UNIFIL.However, there is the potential for conflict at any time given the regional instability and tensions with neighbouring countries.

The Irish contribution to UNIFIL has long been recognised by the UN and by the Authorities here in Lebanon for their professionalism and courage.

As Minister for Defence I am proud to be able to personally recognise the leadership role that our Troops continue to play by being here on behalf of the  Government and the people of Ireland.

Read: Deportation of man suspected of killing Irish soldiers “an important step”>

Read:  Man suspected of killing two Irish soldiers in Lebanon to be deported from US>

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