Irish Defence Forces marking 60th anniversary of the first peacekeeping tour
The Irish Defence Forces are marking the 60th anniversary of the first peacekeeping tour with a ceremony at Dublin Castle this weekend.
President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe T.D. will all preside over the ceremony.
Ireland holds the record for the longest unbroken service of any peacekeeping nation in the world with more than 70,000 individual tours completed by members of the Defence Forces.
In a video released to mark the occasion, former US president John F Kennedy is seen commending the Irish troops on their service to peacekeeping missions during a visit to the Dáil in 1963.
Speaking of the anniversary, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said "the Irish government is strongly committed to contributing to international peace and security."
He said, "thousands of Irish men and women have served in the blue helmets over six decades, and that's one of the reasons Ireland is making a bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.
"Ireland's outstanding record on the international stage in the service of peace strengthens the values we represent as a nation, inspiring the pride of out people at home and abroad," he added.
In the 60 years of service, Ireland has lost 87 members of the Defence Forces and one member of An Garda Síochana from peacekeeping missions.
Today, there are 645 members of the Defence Forces deployed in 13 missions, in 13 countries and at sea.