Tricolour taken from soldier’s family after funeral

A family was asked to return the national flag to the Defence Forces following a military funeral.

The Tricolour had been handed over to a family as part of the funeral protocol, but a soldier was later told to get it back in what proved to be a “highly embarrassing” matter.

The story was relayed to the PDforra conference where delegates said the families of late serving members should be entitled to have the flag draped over the coffin and also presented with it afterwards.

The conference was told, on many occasions, families had been denied the right to the flag.

PDforra called on the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney and Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett to ensure relatives are given the flag as a mark of respect.

Delegates said, in some sections of the Defence Forces, it had been done on occasion but more often than not, it was not the general practice.

They demanded it should be a standard practice for serving and retired members who pass away, as was the case with the American military.

Some PDforra delegates were quite emotional when debating the issue, some saying it was a terrible insult to the family not to be given the Tricolour as it was a memento of service to the country.

A Defence Forces spokesman said, under regulations, it was not the custom to present the flag.

However, he said if a family requested the flag, the decision can be taken locally by a senior officer.

At the recent state funeral for the remains of Thomas Kent the flag, draped over his coffin, was presented to his family.

PDforra president Mark Scally said the regulations should be amended to ensure all families are given the opportunity to keep the flag and he said he hoped Mr Coveney and the new chief of staff would resolve the issue speedily.

The minister, meanwhile, said he would look into the matter as he “was anxious to take a compassionate approach”.

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