Two separate postmortems and at least four investigations will be carried out by authorities investigating the killing of an Irish soldier in south Lebanon on Wednesday night.
Private Seán Rooney (24) was shot dead after his UN vehicle came under attack while travelling to Beirut airport. Trooper Shane Kearney (22) was seriously injured in the incident while two other Defence Forces soldiers suffered more minor injuries.
A number of separate investigations into the incident are now being stood up both in Ireland and in Lebanon.
A Defence Forces after-action report has already been drafted. This will be used to inform a wider investigation into the events preceding the incident and the attack itself.
The military investigation will examine how the convoy became separated and how Pte Rooney’s vehicle became isolated in the village of Al-Aqbieh.
Standard operating procedure for travelling the route from the Unifil area of operations to Beirut Airport requires personnel to wear body armour, carry their weapons and maintain a convoy of at least two vehicles. The Defence Forces investigation will examine whether all of these requirements were met.
The United Nations will also carry out its own investigation, as will the Lebanese authorities. Finally, Pte Rooney’s death will be the subject of a coroner’s hearing back in Ireland.
Sources said standard procedure is for a postmortem to be carried out in Lebanon and another one back in Ireland. Pte Rooney’s body remains under Defence Forces guard at Raee Hospital where he was initially brought after the attack.
The three injured men have been moved to the UN-controlled hospital in Hamud.
Initial indications are that Pte Rooney died when multiple bullets were shot into his vehicle, with at least one hitting him in the head. The vehicle crashed into a shop in the village and overturned.
The scene has been sealed off by Lebanese and UN authorities and is undergoing technical analysis.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney said he has been contacted by his counterparts in the Lebanese government who have assured him of full co-operation in the investigations.
“There will be a full investigation into this fatal incident and this evening Minister Coveney, who is in New York, will meet the UN secretary general to discuss the sad loss of our Irish servicemen and the inquiry to follow,” Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil on Thursday.
“The Taoiseach, Mr Coveney and the Chief of Staff have said that the Defence Forces will do everything to provide care and support to the bereaved families and those of the injured as well as providing ongoing support for all of the personnel in Lebanon.”