Uniform first for Irish forces in UK
Irish soldiers will wear their uniforms for what is believed to be the first time in public in the United Kingdom to attend the funeral of a British Army bomb disposal officer.
Members of the Army's Ordnance Corps were friends of Captain Lisa Jade Head, who died recently from injuries she received in Afghanistan. The Irish soldiers attended bomb disposal courses with her in Britain and the explosive ordnance corps of both armies work in close tandem and members of the British Army attend bomb disposal courses here on a regular basis.
Captain Head, 29, is to be buried from her home in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, next month. She had deployed to Afghanistan on March 27 and was on her first operation. She had defused one bomb in the Nahr-e Saraj area and was attempting to defuse a second device when it exploded. Although she survived she did not regain consciousness and was returned to hospital in the UK where she died.
The Irish Defence Forces maintain a small, permanent presence of bomb disposal experts in Afghanistan with the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and several of those who have served there knew Captain Head.
The Irish soldiers who will attend Captain Head's funeral asked for permission to wear their uniforms and this was granted by the Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sean McCann. Serving and retired soldiers could not recall Irish soldiers ever wearing uniforms publicly in Britain, although they do when taking military course in British Army institutions. The President's military adjutant dresses in a civilian suit when he accompanies the president to Northern Ireland or Britain.