Category: Archive

Ex-officers dismissal upheld

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

“The inquiry has failed to uncover any objective evidence to sustain the range of allegations which have been made concerning the circumstances of the former lieutenant’s retirement in 1969,” defense minister Michael Smith said.
De Roiste, a brother of 1997 presidential candidate Adi Roche, has claimed that he was never given a reason for his dismissal.
De Roiste recently took the battle to clear his name to the U.S. with a press conference at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan.
He was flanked by his sister Adi, author and journalist Don Mullan, and actor Gabriel Byrne.
De Roiste, who uses the Irish language form of his family name, said he was never told why he had been dismissed, never allowed to answer any charges or face any accusers.
De Roiste’s ex-wife and two grown children live in Harrisburg, Pa., and are strongly supportive of his effort to clear his name.
De Roiste said he was victimized because he refused to lie in order to cover for a senior officer responsible for almost killing a civilian in a drunk-driving accident.
In mounting his U.S. campaign, de Roiste enlisted the help of William Geary, the now 103-year-old Queens resident, and former member of the Garda Siochana, who had his good name restored by the Irish government in 1999 after spending a lifetime denying a charge of accepting a bribe from the IRA in 1928, a charge that led to his dismissal from the force.
De Roiste told the Echo that when he attempted to secure U.S. citizenship he was denied because he could not explain to the INS why he had been dismissed from the army.
His sister Adi said her brother had been effectively sentenced to a form of life imprisonment with parole.
“It could all be ended with the stroke of a pen,” she said.
That stroke, however, did not go in de Roiste’s favor last week. Following the report from the JAG, Ms. Oonah McCrann, the military authorities will now release all documentation to de Roiste dealing with the events leading up to his dismissal.
In her report, McCrann noted that de Roiste’s mother wrote to the defense minister in October 1969 seeking a character reference for her son.
“In the letter, she asserted that ex-Lt. Donal Roche had been found not guilty of the charges that had been proferred against him, ie collaborating with the IRA,” McCrann stated.
McCrann said she could not speculate what de Roiste had told his “presumably and understandably very upset mother” but that it seemed clear that, at the very least, the general nature of the investigation was known to him.
The 22-page report says the documents show the army authorities were faced with a situation “where an officer was suspected of contact with individuals who were known to be subversive and who were members of what was suspected to be an active IRA splinter group.”
The faction is not named but is described as “the most active extremist group of splinter IRA.”
McCrann stated in her report: “It seems to me that the mere suggestion, in the context of the time, or indeed in the context of modern times, of contact with subversives goes to the very core of whether or not an individual could be regarded as a suitable individual for membership of the armed forces.”
The JAG’s report concluded that no practical or substantial benefit would be derived from holding any further inquiry into the matter. She found no evidence de Roiste had been victimized, but the report did state that with the documentation available, it was not possible to say whether or not there was a breach of fair procedures.
An interview document included in the report says that de Roiste said he knew he was finished with the army but that he would not retire “to see what they would do with him.” It is not clear from the document in what context these comments arose.
The document stated that because of de Roiste’s “demeanor” and refusal to give a statement, the chief investigating officer “was satisfied that his retention in the forces constituted a grave security risk.”
Ray O’Hanlon contributed to this story.

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