Soldier killed in Lebanon to be buried today

A peacekeeping Irish soldier who died in Lebanon will be laid to rest with full military honours later.

Last week, Private Sean Rooney, of the Irish Defence Forces, from Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal, was killed when his convoy was attacked.

The victim’s family received the man’s body after it was returned to Lebanon on Monday. A ceremony will be held at Holy Family Church in Dundalk at 9 am to remember Pte Rooney.

Later in the afternoon, he will be taken to All Saints Catholic Church in Colehill, Co Donegal for a burial service with full military honours. Pte Rooney received several posthumous recognitions before his body departed Beirut for home, including a UN peacekeeping medal and a Lebanese armed forces appreciation medal. A number of colleagues from the 121 Infantry Battalion reportedly never left his side during the flight home.

A second soldier injured in the same incident was flown back to Ireland on Wednesday to receive further medical treatment. Private Shane Kearney, 22, from Killeagh, Co Cork, suffered a serious head injury. Three other peacekeepers were treated for minor injuries.

Irish soldiers formed part of the 121st Infantry Battalion, which was deployed to southern Lebanon in November as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).

Last Friday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said during a visit to Unifil headquarters that Lebanon is determined to discover the factors that resulted in the death of an Irish peacekeeper. In a statement issued Thursday, Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia and a prominent political party that has a major presence in Al Aqbieh and across the country, denied involvement in the soldier’s murder.

More than 300 Unifil soldiers have been killed since 1978, when Unifil was created to maintain peace after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon.


Image Credit: AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari