Barbed wire soldier incident "shouldn’t have happened" and will be fully investigated — Minister

Defence Minister Simon Coveney has said an incident in which a soldier was tied up and subjected to a number of electric shocks to his feet and chest "should not have happened" and would be thoroughly investigated.

The Irish Examiner revealed earlier this week that the soldier, in his 30s, also had barbed wire strung around his toes in the alleged incident, during which a group of up to 30 of his colleagues are said to have looked on.

Military police are now investigating and Mr Coveney, speaking in Cork yesterday, said: “There is no place in the Irish Defence Forces for the kind of stories that we have read about this week in relation to this particular incident and we will deal with it appropriately.”

He said that allegations of bullying were dealt with by specific personnel within the Defence Forces and adequate supports were provided for those making complaints.

“Issues within the Defence Forces around isolation, bullying, and a vehicle within the Defence Forces for supports and complaints and full transparency and so on — the Irish Defence Forces has progressed very significantly over the last 10 years in all of those areas,” Mr Coveney said. “Clearly, this seems to be an incident that some have described as a prank. As far as I am concerned, it is totally unacceptable; it shouldn’t have happened.

“I don’t have the full details on it yet, all I heard is what I read in the media, but there is a full investigation under way.

“It is being taken very, very seriously by the military police and I expect that once that investigation and report is concluded, action will be taken on the back of it.”

Mr Coveney said it had been a good week for the Irish Defence Forces elsewhere, following the news that personnel would be active in West Africa in the fight against ebola.

Three IDF personnel will travel to the region to work with Irish Embassy staff, with the possibility of another five travelling next January to work with the British defence forces in setting up hospitals and ensuring people receive treatment.

He added that consideration was being given to releasing other members of the Defence Forces to work in a voluntary capacity with Goal and Concern in the area.

In relation to criticism from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties over the nomination of Josephine Feehily, who heads Revenue, as the chair of the independent Policing Authority, Mr Coveney said the process “had been as you would expect it to be and properly undertaken”.


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