Coveney orders external review into Defence Forces gathering during lockdown

Coveney Orders External Review Into Defence Forces Gathering During Lockdown
A spokesperson for the Department of Defence confirmed a senior council will carry out the review ordered by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney. Photo: PA Images
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Approximately 40 Defence Forces personnel are understood to have attended a social event at the headquarters of the Defence Forces' Covid Taskforce during a time when Covid-19 restrictions limited outdoor gatherings to 15 people.

As reported by The Irish Times, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has ordered an external review into the matter. His department confirmed the review will be conducted by a senior counsel.


The event took place at McKee Barracks in Dublin on June 25th, 2020, with Defence Forces personnel, including officers, in attendance, military sources said.

The event, at which alcohol was consumed, was intended as a morale booster and was held in the green area next to the gym where the taskforce was based.

An email was sent to personnel based at McKee Barracks inviting them to attend the gathering.


As previously reported by The Irish Times, at the event, an officer allegedly tried to grope a female subordinate's breast after becoming extremely drunk. The matter is currently under investigation by the Military Police.

An investigation by the Military Police into the event, which it referred to as a "late lunch", found rules surrounding the consumption of alcohol on base were broken.

However, the investigation found there was no breach of Covid restrictions as attendees filtered in and out so there were no more than 15 people present at any one time. This aspect has been disputed by multiple sources who said approximately 40 people were in attendance at one point, with alcohol being consumed well into the evening.

Mr Coveney received a final report on the investigation from Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sean Clancy on January 28th, 2022, with a spokesperson for the Minister stating: "The Chief of Staff advised that the appropriate sanctions had been applied following the investigations."

"Given the length of time between the alleged incidents and the conclusion of the Military Investigations, Minister Coveney and the Chief of Staff have agreed on an external review of the matter," the spokesperson added.

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