Sunday 17 November 2019

Family to visit scene of Congo troop's death

Barry Duggan and Ralph Riegel

THE family of a teenage soldier who was killed in action 50 years ago in Africa will finally get the chance to see where he died.

The remains of Trooper Pat Mullins (18) -- who died on Ireland's first major UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo -- have never been recovered.

Yesterday, Tpr Mullins was hailed a hero at a special commemoration in his native parish of Kilbehenny, Co Limerick, attended by Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Chief of Staff Lt Gen Sean McCann.

Mr Shatter said that, security permitting, the Government would help members of the Mullins family travel to the spot in Lubumbashi where the young soldier was shot and killed. They will first need to secure UN permission and take into account the security threat in the African country.

Tpr Mullins died alongside his friend, Corporal Michael Nolan (22), when their armoured car was ambushed on September 15, 1961, by heavily armed mercenaries.

The soldiers' relatives -- including his brothers Thomas and Denis and sisters Margaret, Mary and Nelly -- were yesterday joined by members of the Nolan family and former army comrades.

Denis Mullins said he had good memories of his youngest brother and admitted it was very sad that they had no grave for him.

"He was a good hurler, he hurled with the Southern Command. And he played underage football with the Galtee Rovers. He was a good footballer, too, and would have been a very good footballer if he had been able to continue."

Mr Mullins said it was a great comfort for the family to meet his colleagues yesterday.

Tpr Mullins' memorial -- a stone monument in front of Kilbehenny Church -- was organised by the Defence Forces and supported by the Irish United Nations Veterans Association.

Irish Independent

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