Taoiseach hopes to visit peacekeepers in 2023 after death of Irish soldier Seán Rooney in Lebanon

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wants to visit Irish UN peacekeepers in Lebanon in the new year after Pte Seán Rooney was killed while on duty Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he hopes to visit Irish troops serving on peacekeeping missions next year following the death of Private Seán Rooney.

The Irish soldier, from Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal, was killed in Lebanon when his convoy came under attack almost two weeks ago.

The 24-year-old’s funeral took place last Thursday.

Mr Varadkar said he does not have any immediate plans to travel to Malo, Lebanon or Syria, but said he might be able to travel abroad to meet Irish soldiers sometime next year.

Ireland’s Defence Forces is involved in a number of peacekeeping missions throughout the world, including countries in Africa, the Middle East and other missions across Europe.

Asked if he will prioritise visiting troops abroad, Mr Varadkar said: “I hope that can be done.

Members of the Irish Defence Forces carry the coffin of Private Seán Rooney from Holy Family Church Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

“My travel schedule is extremely busy, as you can imagine, I’ve kind of forgotten how many trips to Brussels, how many trips to the British/Irish Parliamentary Council as well, but it is something I’d certainly hope to fit in if I can.

“I have done so before, over the Christmas in 2019.”

Mr Varadkar said he had the opportunity to meet with Pte Rooney’s family and also met the family of Private Shane Kearney who was injured in the same incident.

Pte Kearney, 22, from Killeagh, Co Cork, was flown home last Wednesday to receive further medical treatment for a serious head injury.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar said he would love to visit India again following his private family trip to the country in 2019.

The Fine Gael leader visited his ancestral village of Maharashtra in the west of India.

Asked if he has any plans for a return trip, Mr Varadkar said: “I haven’t visited (India) officially since 2011, but these things are actually quite complicated to organise. You know, a lot of work has to be done on the ground in advance.

“You have to know that the Prime Minister is available, and things like that, but it’s on the list of possibilities, but by no means definite in 2023.”

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