President Leads State Ceremony to Commemorate 60 Years of Peacekeeping
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins led proceedings at an event commemorating 60 years of Irish involvement in UN Peacekeeping operations. The President was welcomed by An Taoiseach Mr. Leo Varadkar and Minister with Responsibility for Defence Mr. Paul Kehoe.
This year marks significant anniversaries in relation to Ireland's UN peacekeeping role. It will be the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s first participation in a UN peacekeeping mission and it is the 40th anniversary of the first deployment of Defence Force personnel to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.
Speaking ahead of the event, Minister Paul Kehoe said
This anniversary provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the contributions of our Defence Forces personnel and veterans, who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping missions, alongside our police and civilian personnel.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also paid tribute to Irish peacekeepers saying
Since 1958, when Irish troops first served with the UN, not a single day has passed without Irish military, police or civilian participation in UN peacekeeping operations. Thousands of Irish women and men have served in blue helmets over the last six decades, making a huge contribution to international peacekeeping and to Ireland's place in the world.
Laying a wreath in honour of the 88, police and military who lost their lives while serving on peacekeeping missions overseas President Higgins noted
While this ceremony will be celebratory for all Irish people…. for some it will also be poignant, as we commemorate and honour those who paid the ultimate price in the cause of peace.
In a video address to the assembled crowd the Secretary-General to the United Nations Mr. Antonio Gutierrez commended and thanked Ireland for its steadfast commitment to peace and security saying
Ireland’s valuable contribution to UN peacekeeping goes well beyond the deployment of uniform personnel. Your Government have shown great leadership and support to the development of peacekeeping policy and doctrine.