€300,000 for widow of soldier killed in Lebanon
THE widow and family of an Irish soldier killed along with two comrades while on UN peace-keeping duty in Lebanon 22 years ago got €300,000 in a High Court settlement yesterday.
Pte Mannix Armstrong (26) died along with Cpl Fintan Heneghan (28) and Pte Thomas Walsh (29) when a landmine exploded beside their truck in Lebanon on March 21, 1989.
Pte Armstrong's widow, Grainne, of Oakfield Crescent, Sligo, sued the State and Minister for Defence arising from his death. The settlement was without admission of liability.
On the day of the tragedy, the soldiers, who had been serving with the 64th Infantry Battalion, had been collecting stones to fill defence netting for one of the nearby UN posts when their lorry struck a landmine near the village of Brashit in south Lebanon.
It was claimed in court that the road had not been swept for mines ahead of the truck.
Yesterday's settlement came after Defence Minister Alan Shatter announced in April that he had appointed a senior counsel to conduct a review into the deaths of the three soldiers.
That review, which is being conducted by Frank Callanan will include "all relevant documents and interviews with such persons as considered appropriate by the appointed person".
Mr Callanan is due to report back to the minister on or before August 19.
The court heard yesterday Pte Armstrong was required to operate in a UNIFIL truck in an area where there was the ever-present danger of landmines and other obstacles.
It was claimed the defendants failed to have any monitoring or searching for mines ahead of the truck and failed to equip it with any device for remote sensing of mines.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine said in a wartime situation it was a difficult case and she believed the offer of €300,000 could not be turned down.