Irish soldier killed on UN duty from Donegal

The Irish soldier killed while serving as a UN peacekeeper in Lebanon has been named.
Undated handout photo issued by Defence Forces of Private Sean Rooney of Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal, the Irish peacekeeping soldier killed in Lebanon. The 23-year-old, who was serving with a UN peacekeeping mission, died when his convoy came under attack.Undated handout photo issued by Defence Forces of Private Sean Rooney of Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal, the Irish peacekeeping soldier killed in Lebanon. The 23-year-old, who was serving with a UN peacekeeping mission, died when his convoy came under attack.
Undated handout photo issued by Defence Forces of Private Sean Rooney of Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal, the Irish peacekeeping soldier killed in Lebanon. The 23-year-old, who was serving with a UN peacekeeping mission, died when his convoy came under attack.

Private Sean Rooney, 23, from Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal, died when his convoy came under attack.

Another soldier injured in the incident is in a serious condition in hospital having undergone surgery. He has been named as Private Shane Kearney, a native of Killeagh, Co Cork.

Two other peacekeepers were treated for minor injuries.

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The soldiers were part of 121st Infantry Battalion, comprising of 333 Irish troops, which was deployed in November to south Lebanon as part of the United Nation Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).

The Irish Defence Forces said Pte Rooney signed up in 2019.

Its statement added: "His home unit is the 27 Infantry Battalion in Dundalk.

"He previously served overseas with the 119 Infantry Battalion Unifil."

Pte Kearney joined the Defence Forces in October 2018.

"His home unit is 1 Cavalry Squadron in Collins Barracks, Cork," the statement said.

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"He previously served overseas with the 117 Infantry Battalion Unifil."

A convoy of two armoured vehicles en route to Beirut came under small arms fire at around 9.15pm Irish time on Wednesday night.

All four soldiers injured in the attack were taken to Raee Hospital, near Sidon, following the incident.

Pte Rooney suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Four other soldiers in the convoy were uninjured.

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The Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean Clancy, expressed shock and sadness at the "tragic event".

"Our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his fellow peacekeepers from the 121st Infantry Battalion," he said. "Our thoughts are also with those who were injured last night and their families and friends.

"We have one of our medical officers currently at Raee Hospital and we will ensure that our personnel get the best possible care.

"Our focus now is to ensure the safety and continued support for all our personnel deployed in Lebanon."

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The Defence Forces said a full investigation will commence into the incident.

The 121st Infantry Battalion is part of a multinational battalion, comprising Irish, Maltese, Polish and Hungarian personnel.

The UN's peacekeeping mission in Lebanon was established in 1978 following Israel's invasion of the country.

Irish defence minister Simon Coveney said the soldier is "a young man who has lost his life in service of Ireland and of the UN".

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"Essentially what happened, we think, was two armoured personnel vehicles were travelling from our main camp in southern Lebanon to Beirut. It was a standard administrative run, as it's called in military terms," he told RTE Radio.

"The two armoured vehicles effectively got separated. One of them got surrounded by a hostile mob – I think that's the only way you could describe them – and shots were fired and unfortunately one of our peacekeepers was killed."

Irish President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Micheal Martin offered their condolences to Pte Rooney’s family.

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