Tánaiste pays tribute to fallen Irish soldier Seán Rooney during trip to Lebanon

Tánaiste pays tribute to fallen Irish soldier Seán Rooney during trip to Lebanon

TÁNAISTE Micheál Martin has shared his “sympathies” with colleagues of Irish UN soldier Private Seán Rooney, who was killed in December, during a two-day visit to Lebanon this week.

Private Rooney died when the convoy in which he was travelling to Beirut came under fire near the village of Al-Aqbiya on December 14, 2022.

The 23-year-old from Newtowncunningham, Co. Donegal was repatriated on Monday, December 19 before being laid to rest on Thursday, December 29.

Lebanon has charged seven people for participating in the attack against United Nations peacekeepers that killed Private Rooney.

Private Rooney’s funeral took place at the Holy Family Church in Dundalk

Mr Martin, who is also Ireland’s Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs, travelled to Lebanon on January 25 to visit the members of the 121st Irish Polish Battalion of UNIFIL at their camp – Camp Shamrock (UNP 2-45), of which Private Rooney was a member.

Mr Martin said the trip offered “an opportunity for me to convey my sympathies and those of the government to the colleagues of Private Seán Rooney on their loss and to express our heartfelt appreciation as they continue to fulfil their duties with the professionalism and dedication that one associates with the Defence Forces”.

“It is always an honour and privilege to be able to visit Irish troops serving overseas, “ Mr Martin added.

“The outpouring of sympathy and support for Private Rooney and his injured colleagues in Óglaigh na hÉireann is a true expression of the regard in which the Defence Forces are held and a reflection of the pride of the Irish people in what they do.”

Tánaiste Michael Martin pictured arriving at the Irish peacekeeper's funeral

The Tánaiste also visited a memorial at Tibnine in honour of Irish personnel who died while serving with UNIFIL.

He was accompanied on the trip by the Secretary General of the Department of Defence, Ms Jacqui McCrum, and the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lt Gen Seán Clancy.

The Irish delegation met the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, as well as the Lebanese Minister for Defence, Mr Maurice Sleem, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Emigrants, Dr Abdullah Bou Habib.

Mr Martin poses for a picture as he visits the Irish UNIFIL battalion in Tibnin, southern Lebanon

The Tánaiste said that these meetings enabled him to reiterate “the Irish Government’s determination that all of the facts and circumstances of the incident in which Private Rooney was killed are fully established and that those responsible are brought to justice.

In his meeting with the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Mr Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Tánaiste reiterated Ireland’s continued commitment, within its capability, to contribute troops to UN missions, including UNIFIL.

Mr Martin took time to meet with members of the UN peacekeeping unit

They also discussed the events relating to Private Rooney’s death, which is currently the subject of a number of parallel investigations, including one being undertaken by UNIFIL and another by a Defence Forces Multi-disciplinary Team, which is also being supported by An Garda Síochána.

The Tánaiste and the Lebanese Ministers also discussed a number of other issues, including the political and economic issues in Lebanon and the ongoing conflict in Syria.