Fallen UN peacekeepers have been honoured by Irish President Michael D. Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Prime Minister). On the 9th of July leading civil, military, political and religious figures gathered at Collins Barracks, Dublin to lay a wreath in commemoration of Irish troops who have died in service, including some eighty five soldiers who have given their lives in the name of world peace, while participating in UN peacekeeping missions.
Ireland’s contribution to UN peacekeeping began in 1958 with a deployment of officer observers to UNTSO’s mission to the Lebanon. This commitment to service continued and expanded during ONUC’s exacting mission in the Congo during the early 1960s, where the Irish peacekeepers suffered their largest single loss of life during an ambush in Niemba, which took the lives of nine Irish soldiers. The Irish defence forces continue their long tradition of commitment to UN peacekeeping today, serving on nine separate missions.
The President’s laying of the wreath was followed by a minute’s silence and a gun salute, all to honour the peacekeepers that Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, has described as being integral to bringing “pride, praise and prominence to the defence forces and to Ireland”.
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