98. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the recommendations from the January 2006 review in the aftermath of the death of a person (details supplied); the recommendations that were not implemented; and the reason therefor. (Question 19774/18 asked on 08 May 2018)
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): In February 2006, the then Minister for Defence received a report following an independent review conducted by Mr. Sean Hurley on the interactions between the Department of Defence/Defence Forces and the parents and family of Private Kevin Barrett in the aftermath of the tragic death of Private Barrett on 18th February 1999 while serving with UNIFIL in South Lebanon.
Mr Hurley looked in detail at how the Department and the Defence Forces interacted with the Barrett family after Kevin’s death and made a number of recommendations under the following headings:
- The Families’ Request for information
- The Repatriation of Private Barrett’s Remains
- The Pre and Post Liaison Arrangements
The Coroner’s Inquest
Important lessons were learnt and following on from publication of the report, the Defence Forces standard operating procedures have been reviewed and a number of actions taken in response to recommendations contained in the report.
Practices and procedures in relation to the preservation of evidence collected in the course of investigations have been reviewed and changes to policies and procedures introduced. Specialised evidence storage lockers have also been issued to units both at home and overseas. Specific instruction is provided by the Military Police to Officers in charge of overseas military posts, on the procedures to be undertaken to preserve the scene of accidents, incidents and crimes pending the arrival of Military Police.
Bereavement procedures have been reviewed. The Defence Forces Bereavement Policy and Bereavement Handbook and a Unit Commanders Guideline on Bereavement and serious injury have been issued and are updated regularly.
The roles and responsibilities of Medical Officers at autopsies conducted outside the jurisdiction have been reviewed. While instructions for Medical Officers with regard to autopsy have been outlined, the attendance of Medical Officers at autopsies and their reporting capacity is dependent on the rules in place in the country in which Defence Forces personnel are deployed.
Specific procedures are in place for the repatriation of a member of the Defence Forces who is deceased while overseas.
Following publication of the report and at the request of the then Minister for Defence, arrangements were made for the Garda Síochána to conduct a thorough and detailed investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Private Kevin Barrett. The Gardaí subsequently briefed the family on the findings arising from their investigation into Private Barrett’s death. The Department of Defence remained in contact with the family throughout the investigation.