Condolences offered to family of Irish soldier killed in Lebanon UN peacekeeping mission

The Irish soldier has not been named. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

An Irish soldier serving as a UN peacekeeper in Lebanon was killed when his convoy came under attack.

Another soldier injured in the attack is in a serious condition in hospital having undergone surgery.

Two other peacekeepers were treated for minor injuries.

The soldiers were part of 121st Infantry Battalion, which comprises 333 Irish soldiers, that was deployed in November 2022 to South Lebanon as part of the Unifil (United Nation Interim Force in Lebanon).

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.

The peacekeeper who suffered fatal injuries was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Four other soldiers in the convoy were uninjured in the attack.

The Defence Forces said the name of the soldier who was killed is not being released at this time, but that his family has been informed.

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.”

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

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 President Michael D Higgins offered his “deepest condolences” to the family of the dead soldier.

“As President of Ireland and Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, it is with a heavy heart, and conscious of the great loss it will represent to them, that I offer my deepest condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the member of the Defence Forces who has lost their life,” he said.

“A life lost serving the people of Ireland, serving the United Nations, and serving all those wishing for peace in our shared world.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin expressed the sympathies of the Irish Government Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: “It is with a deep sense of sadness and shock that I have learned of the death of one of our Unifil peacekeepers, and serious injuries to another, in an incident in Lebanon.

“I want to express the heartfelt sorrow of the Government of Ireland at the loss of a young person serving overseas with the United Nations.

“In particular, I extend to his family our deepest sympathies for the terrible loss they have suffered.

“It is a reminder that our peacekeepers serve in dangerous circumstances, at all times, in the cause of peace.

“Our thoughts are with his colleagues, and to the wider Defence Forces family and all who serve overseas, we know how deeply you will feel this loss.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Irish defence minister Simon Coveney added: “It is with profound sadness and a deep sense of shock that I have subsequently learned of the death of one of our peacekeepers and of the serious injuries to one other.

“At this time I want to express, on behalf of everyone in Ireland, our utmost sorrow at the loss of a young man serving his country and the United Nations overseas.

“To his family I want to say sorry for their heartbreak and loss.

“To the families of those injured, I want you to know the Defence Forces will do everything to care for and support your loved ones.”

Mr Coveney said he intends to meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss a “full investigation” into the circumstances of the incident.

“As Minister for Defence and for Foreign Affairs I am currently in New York for a meeting of the UN Security Council,” he said.

“I will return to Ireland this evening after I meet with the UN Secretary-General to discuss the loss of our peacekeeper and the full investigation that must now follow.”

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said: “We unite in grief at the loss of a brave Irish soldier serving Ireland and the UN Lebanon, and pray for a speedy recovery for the injured.

“Our thoughts are with the bereaved family, and with the families of the injured. We salute the bravery of all concerned.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “Deeply shocking news of death of a member of our Defence Forces and the injury of others on peacekeeping duties in Lebanon.

“Thoughts and prayer with their families and members of Oglaigh na hEireann at this time. We are very proud of our soldiers, their courage and sacrifice.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “Deeply shocking news of death of a member of our Defence Forces and the injury of others on peacekeeping duties in Lebanon.Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the death was “horrific” and she extended her thoughts and those of the party to the soldier’s family.

She said it was “distressing” to hear the news on Thursday morning.

“We are thinking of all their family and friends and all those effected,” she added.

“Hearing the news of a peacekeeper killed is really awful. I was to express my own deepest condolences to the family.”

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