New investigation into soldiers' deaths

New information has sparked an independent review into the deaths of three Irish soldiers in the Lebanon 22 years ago.

New information has sparked an independent review into the deaths of three Irish soldiers in the Lebanon 22 years ago.

Defence Minister Alan Shatter confirmed he will appoint a person to examine the circumstances of the deaths of Corporal Fintan Heneghan, Private Mannix Armstrong and Private Thomas Walsh, in March 1989.

The three were on United Nations duty in Brashit, south Lebanon, when they were killed by a landmine.

Mr Shatter revealed the new information came to light in the course of preparing the State’s defence against a legal case.

“This information was not available in 2003 when the Department of Defence conducted a review of its records and concluded that no further inquiry was warranted,” the minister’s spokeswoman said.

“Had the information been available then, it is possible that a different conclusion might have been reached.”

The families of the three men – who served with ’C’ Coy, 64 Infantry Battalion - have raised concerns over how they were killed when their lorry struck a landmine, believed to have been planted by the militant Hezbollah group targeting the Israeli army.

It is understood the families later found the road had not been swept for mines.

In 2003, they called for an independent inquiry into the deaths, but an internal Army inquiry reportedly found no negligence.

Pte Armstrong’s widow, Marian, is also taking High Court action for compensation.

The Department of Defence said senior officials have already met with the families, adding the review will examine all relevant documents and interviews as considered appropriate.

“It is anticipated that such independent person will be appointed in the coming days with a brief of reporting back to the Minister with his/her findings within three to four months,” his spokeswoman added.

“However, the Minister wishes to stress that a commitment has been made to the families that they will be informed in the first instance in relation to the identity of the reviewer.”

The Army denies any negligence.

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