Irish soldiers who lost their lives during UN mission in Lebanon honoured at special ceremony
Forty seven Irish peace keeping soldiers, who lost their lives while serving with the United Nations mission in south Lebanon, Unifil, were honoured at a special ceremony there today.
Minister with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe, laid a wreath at an UN monument in Tibnin during a visit to the 380 Irish personnel currently serving with Unifil.
Among those at the ceremony were the deputy chief of staff (operations) of the Defence Forces, Major General Kieran Brennan and the officer commanding the 111th infantry battalion, Lieut Col Neil Nolan.
The ceremony also marked the 40th anniversary of Ireland's deployment to the Lebanon mission.
Mr Kehoe said that in serving so selflessly, Irish peacekeepers had "helped save the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world.
"Tragically, in saving those lives, too many of our finest people, like those remembered here today, have lost their own".
Mr Kehoe added: "The spirit of many Irish soldiers will remain in south Lebanon and the memorial will be a focal point, lest anyone forget the contribution they made".
After a reception with local leaders in Tibnin town hall, Mr Kehoe visited a community project, funded with help from Irish Aid, at Bint Jbeil.
Earlier the minister had attended a medal parade at the Irish battalion headquarters and told the troops: "What you do here daily culminates in the realisation of our words of commitment to peacekeeping and also to progress in the region.
"Your work and your actions fill every Irish person with pride and is also the difference between life and death for so many people living here.
"We may be a small nation but we can stand tall when it comes to helping some of the most beleaguered people on this planet", Mr Kehoe added.
Major General Brennan said that for the troops, receiving their medals was recognition of their service to date and a significant milestone on their tour of duty.
Mr Kehoe attended a similar medal parade during his Middle East trip for the 135 Irish personnel serving with the Undof mission in the Golan Heights on the Syria-Israel border at the Irish headquarters, Camp Ziouani.
In total, the Defence Forces has 588 personnel serving overseas in 13 missions.