Sr Helen Prejean takes up case of sacked Irish soldier
The American nun who has fought for the rights of inmates on Death Row for many years, has lent her support to a campaign to clear the name of a former Irish army lieutenant dismissed from the force summarily 34 years ago without explanation.
Sr Helen, author of the best-selling book Dead Man Walking, said the case of Mr Donal de Roiste "reeked of injustice".
The current Irish Defence Minister, Michael Smith, has now requisitioned army papers about Mr de Roiste's involuntary retirement and asked the Judge Advocate General at the Department to examine them.
Mr de Roiste has claimed he is innocent of any wrongdoing and that successive governments have been "stonewalling" on his efforts to establish why he was retired by President Eamon de Valera in 1969 "in the interests of the service".
He has rejected suggestions that he was associated with republican paramilitaries and says he suffered a miscarriage of justice.
The dismissal became public controversially when Mr de Roiste's sister Adi Roche, a Chernobyl campaigner, was a candidate in the last Irish Presidential election.
Speaking at the launch of a campaign to have his name cleared yesterday, Sr Helen said: "I think you have been given a kind of death sentence because your name has become associated with impropriety, wrongdoing, a scoundrel, and you can kill a person by killing his name. That's another kind of death.
3 Jul 2002