Statement of Minister for Defence on the report into the of circumstances into the retirement of Mr Donal de Róiste from the Defence Forces
The Minister for Defence accepts the conclusions of the review report received from Mr Beirne SC.
The Minister acknowledges that notwithstanding the standards and circumstances that prevailed in 1969, the Review has concluded that Mr Dónal de Róiste’s retirement was made on foot of a fundamentally flawed and unfair process and was not in accordance with law. He went on to say that:
“Clearly, the security situation in Ireland in 1969 was far different than what it is today. However, whilst a decision to retire Mr de Róiste from the Defence Forces in these circumstances, and on the basis of the documentation considered at the time, was found by the Reviewer to be reasonable, the Review has determined that no national security concerns should have prevented Mr de Róiste from being afforded the most basic procedures of natural justice and the right to defend himself and his good name. In this regard, the Review has concluded that Mr de Róiste’s dismissal was not in accordance with law.”
The Minister apologises for the distress and upset suffered over the years by Mr de Róiste.
A settlement, the terms of which are confidential to the parties, has been agreed with Mr de Róiste.
The Minister wishes to acknowledge also the long-standing interest that President Higgins has taken in Mr de Róiste’s case.
The Minister concluded by offering his thanks to Mr Niall Beirne SC, who conducted the review.
Note for Editors
- Mr Donal de Róiste was retired by the President, acting on the advice of the Government, with effect from 27 June 1969, in accordance with section 47(2) of the Defence Acts 1954 and Section 18(1)(f) of Defence Force Regulation A.15.
- High Court proceedings taken by Mr de Róiste in November 1998 taken in relation to the circumstances of his retirement were rejected in June 1999 on grounds of inordinate delay. The Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision in January 2001 on foot of an appeal lodged in September 1999.
- The Minister for Defence ordered a review of documentation in Mr de Róiste’s case by the Judge Advocate General of the Defence Forces in July 2002. The report of the Judge Advocate General was subsequently quashed by the High Court in 2005 on the grounds that Mr de Róiste had not been afforded fair procedures in the review. The judgment concluded that the decision made in 1969 to recommend the Applicant’s retirement from the Defence Forces was unaffected by this finding.
- In 2010, Seanad Éireann adopted a resolution which included a provision that the Government would ask the Judge Advocate General to select a nominee to carry out another review of the documentation on Mr. de Róiste’s file. Terms of reference for a review were drafted from the wording of the Seanad resolution but were not acceptable to Mr de Róiste.
- Since then, a number of attempts have been made to agree revised terms of reference for a review, that were acceptable to all parties and this was achieved in 2020.
- On foot of this, the Government authorised a review of Mr. de Róiste’s case. The then Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe TD appointed Mr Niall Beirne SC to conduct the review with the following terms of reference;
- Carry out a review of all relevant documentation relating to Mr. de Róiste’s case to determine whether, on the basis of the documentation available to the Defence Forces at the time, the decision to compulsorily retire Mr. de Róiste was reasonable and in accordance with law.
- Ensure that Mr. de Róiste has been provided with all relevant documentation, relating to the circumstances of his retirement, which is to form the basis of the review.
- Afford Mr. de Róiste with an opportunity, within such reasonable time limits as may be determined by him/her, to be interviewed and make written submissions based on that documentation.
- Interview any other person and/or request written submissions as he or she sees fit having regard to all the circumstances and in the interests of fairness to both Mr. de Róiste and the Defence Forces.
- Having considered the documentation and the submissions, complete a report containing his/her determination and the reasons therefore and submit the report to the Minister within three months of the date of his/her appointment or at the earliest opportunity thereafter.
- The report of the Reviewer was received in June 2022, and discussions were entered into immediately with Mr de Róiste and his legal adviser on its conclusions.
- A copy of the report is available HERE