Wednesday, 21 May 1969
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. James Tully: asked the Minister for Defence the date on which an application for a special  allowance was made by a person (name supplied) in County Meath; if a decision has yet been made on the application; and, if so, what it is.
Minister for Defence (Mr. Hilliard): An application for special allowance was received on the 15th July, 1968, from the person referred to by the Deputy. The applicant was notified on the 11th October, 1968, that an allowance could not be granted to him as his yearly means exceeded the appropriate annual sum. The case was reviewed as a result of an appeal made on the 11th December, 1968, and was again rejected on the grounds of means. The Deputy was advised of the position on the 14th January, 1969.
The Service (1917-1921) Medal without Bar which was issued to the applicant has since been held not to have been duly awarded and, for this reason also, he is not a qualified person for the grant of a special allowance.
Mr. James Tully: Is the Minister aware that, following the communication I received from his Department, I supplied him with I think it was 14 references from people with whom this man had served during the period referred to and that since that time, with the exception of an acknowledgment, I have not received, nor has the man received, any decision from his Department and that it was because of the fact that they claim that he is not entitled to have a medal that he was being refused and not because of his means?
Mr. Hilliard: The Deputy is, I think, referring to two separate matters. This man applied for a medal many years ago and it was awarded to him. Subsequently, the Government made certain decisions in relation to requirements for duly awarded medals. He also applied for a special allowance. His application was investigated and he was refused because of his means. He applied subsequently for the benefits that were announced in last year's Budget and then his entitlement to a duly awarded medal was investigated. A decision was taken that the medal  was not duly awarded. In regard to the number of documents referred to by the Deputy—how many did he say?
Mr. James Tully: This man's brother was shot by the Black and Tans while this boy escaped from the house. Could the Minister explain how it is that the documents in respect of which I have received an acknowledgment have not been checked on yet or how it is that the Minister, who himself has a special interest in this case, was not informed that the documents had been supplied about three months ago?
Mr. Hilliard: The applicant was not with him in the car. I will say this: I know the applicant and I know the area in which he lives. The battalion staff, with one exception, are still alive and available. The company staff are still alive and available, that is, the IRA battalion and company staff for the critical period, and they ought to know.
Mr. James Tully: In view of the fact that I supplied for the Minister's information copies of documents signed by the people that he has referred to and he now says that he did not even see  them, nobody would take the trouble to show them to him, would he now have the matter investigated?
Mr. Hilliard: By direction of the Government in 1957 the system of investigation of applications for the Service Medal without Bar was altered. Since then it has been considered necessary to have evidence by way of records submitted to the referee for the purposes of the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934, of the organised existence during the three months which ended on the 11th July, 1921, of the Unit of which membership is claimed and also to have reports from any available persons who are recorded as officers of that Unit during the critical period. This man claimed to have been a member of Fianna Éireann. No records were submitted to the referee by way either of lists of officers or Slua Rolls indicating the existence of an organised Slua of Fianna Éireann in the area during the three months ended on the 11th July, 1921. It cannot, therefore, be accepted for the purpose of determining entitlement to the duly awarded medal that such a Unit or Slua existed in this area during the critical period. That is the reason.
Mr. James Tully: There is not any further opportunity of having this matter  discussed in the life of this Dáil. Therefore, would the Minister agree to have a look in his Department and have a look at the documents I have referred to and, if he is satisfied that they are in order, have the matter straightened out now?
Mr. Hilliard: There is an allegation made that I do not like the man. That is simply not true. I resent it. I think it is a shocking statement for Deputy Tully to make. He knows that I know this family. He knows that I was a comrade of the man who died in the service of his country. He knows, or ought to know, that I respect this family but I am not entitled, as Minister for Defence, and the power is not vested in me to award a medal to anybody if there is not sufficient evidence for the award of that medal.
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