herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Lebanon veterans hold vigil at embassy

Hundreds of former Irish troops will march to the US embassy today in a public demonstration seeking justice for two slain comrades.

The veterans want the US authorities to take action against a Lebanese man living in the Michigan, who 
they claim is responsible for the abduction and murder of two Irish peace-keepers in Lebanon in 1980.

The ex-soldiers want deportation proceedings to be brought against Mahoud Bazzi who has been living in the US for more than 30 years.

Bazzi should be made to stand trial, they claim.

They allege he played an active part in the actions of militiamen in the
abduction and murder of Private Derek Smallhorne (31) from Bluebell, Dublin, and Private Thomas Barrett (29) from Macroom, Co Cork, in Lebanon.

It is alleged the murders were in revenge for the earlier killing of Bazzi's brother in a battle with UN troops.

Mr Bazzi has always denied the killings.

More than 500 members of the Justice for Smallhorne and Barrett group will hold the vigil outside the embassy at 3pm today.

Among the marchers will be former soldier John O'Mahony from County Kerry who was shot and injured in the violent incident in 1980.

Support

All of the participants in the vigil will be former soldiers including many who served with the United Nations.

There will also be other veteran organisations lending their support, including an American Legion veterans group and veterans of the French Foreign Legion.

A spokesman for the justice group, Robbie Masterson, told the Herald that all military veterans will assemble at the gates of the RDS on Anglesea Road from 2pm. They will salute the Irish flag before parading to the embassy with two pipers and drummers.

The marchers will be carrying national flags of Ireland, France, and the US, as well as the United Nations flag, and a pennant representing the 46th Infantry Battalion to which Smallhorne and Barrett belonged.

More than 500 Irish UN veterans gathered at the Defence Forces National Memorial in Merrion Square on April 18 to mark the 34th anniversary of the deaths.

A delegation recently met with officials from the US embassy officials to ask for proceedings against Bazzi, now in his late 60s and living in an apartment in Detroit.

The group have also had discussions with Government officials.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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