The Tánaiste and Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin TD, is travelling to Lebanon this morning (25 January) for a visit during which he will meet members of the 121st Infantry Battalion UNIFIL, one of whom, Private Seán Rooney was killed on 14 December.
The Tánaiste is accompanied 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.
As well as visiting the personnel of the 121st Infantry Battalion, the Tánaiste will also meet 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.
The primary purpose of the visit will be to visit the members of the 121st Irish Polish Battalion of UNIFIL at their camp – Camp Shamrock (UNP 2-45) – and to visit the memorial at Tibnine in honour of Irish personnel who died while serving with UNIFIL.
Speaking ahead of the visit, the Tánaiste said that “it will be 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.”
The Tánaiste will also meet with the Lebanese Ministers for Foreign Affairs & Emigrants and Defence. The Tánaiste said that these meetings will enable me 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 will reiterate Ireland’s continued commitment, within its capability, to contribute troops to UN missions, including UNIFIL. They will also discuss 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.
Recalling his previous visit to Camp Shamrock as Taoiseach in 2022, the Tánaiste said that “it is always an honour and privilege to be able to visit Irish troops serving overseas. 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.”