Soldier seriously hurt in 'hard landing' following parachute jump collision
An Irish Army corporal who was seriously injured in a training parachute jump is responding well to treatment.
It is understood that the soldier, who has been named locally as Paul Halpin, suffered head and other injuries during a "hard landing" while undertaking a training exercise at the Custume Barracks in Athlone at noon yesterday.
He is believed to have hit a structure as he was coming in to land.
An Army spokesperson said the soldier was very experienced in undertaking parachute jumps.
He was treated by a doctor at the site before an air ambulance based in Athlone transferred him to Tallaght Hospital.
A family open day is scheduled to take place at the barracks tomorrow.
One highlight of the event was advertised as a parachute display by the Defence Forces' Black Knights parachute team.
Serving members and their families, Defence Forces veterans and all members of the public were invited to attend the event.
"Highlights will include weapons, vehicles and equipment displays from various corps of the Defence Forces," according to an advertisement for the event.
"The Army Band will provide music throughout the day."
It was unclear last night if the open day would proceed following the accident.
It is not known if Mr Halpin was due to take part in the event, but yesterday's practice jump was training ahead of the event.
The Irish Army has no spec- ific parachute regiment, but it has a parachute club and hundreds of soldiers are trained to jump.
Defence Minister Paul Kehoe spoke to the Army's chief of staff about the incident last night.
"My thoughts are with the corporal and his family and I have asked for full details to be provided of what is a terrible incident," he said.
It is understood the full safety precautions were in place.
An Army spokesperson said parachute jump accidents were extremely rare.
A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Authority said it was unclear if it had a role in investigating the incident, but would be able to confirm if this was the case by Monday.