hero saluted | 

Irish soldier Sean Rooney to be honoured at 75th anniversary of UN in New York

Today, there are nearly 500 Irish police and military personnel serving under the UN flag

Private Sean Rooney

Private Rooney's funeral

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

The Irish soldier, Private Sean Rooney, who was killed in the Lebanon last December, is to be honoured at the 75th anniversary of the United Nations at their headquarters in New York

The Irish Ambassador to the UN, Fergal Mythen, will receive the Dag Hammarskjold medal, named after the second Secretary-General of the UN, on behalf of Private Rooney's family

Donegal peacekeeper Rooney joined the Irish Defence Forces in March 2019. His home unit was the 27 Infantry Battalion, Aiken Barracks, Dundalk.

He was killed while serving in the Lebanon on December 14, 2022.

The presentation of the medal in the UN General Assembly Hall coincides with a series of events planned to mark the 75th anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, will lay a wreath at the Peacekeeper's Memorial in the grounds of the UN compound to commemorate the 4,200 peacekeepers, including 91 Irish personnel, who have died.

Ahead of the anniversary, Mr Guterres said UN peacekeepers were "the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world."

Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash in what is now Zambia in September 1961. The posthumous award is given by the UN to military personnel, police, or civilians who lose their lives while serving in a United Nations peacekeeping operation.

Ireland has contributed peacekeepers to UN missions on a continuous basis since 1958.

Today, there are nearly 500 Irish police and military personnel serving under the UN flag.

Private Rooney's funeral

Speaking at his Month’s Mind in January, the parish priest of Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal, Fr Philip Kemmy, told how the impact of the short life of the tragic soldier will be felt for generations to come.

Hundreds of locals joined Sean's family and friends as they remembered the life of the young soldier in All Saints Church.

Included amongst the congregation was Sean's loving mum Natasha, her partner Paul McCloskey as well as Sean's fiancée Holly McConnellogue whom he was due to marry in August.

Fr Kemmy said it was not the length of days which made a life honourable but rather how that life was lived.

He added that Sean's death was not the end but the beginning of something new but accepted that it will be difficult and that their grief will be "raw and hard."

He told mourners "We are all living from the benefits of their lives. Quite short lives, but their life has a ripple effect that goes on."

"And Sean's life, far too short, has a ripple effect way beyond the years that we might have expected for him because that ripple effect of his life, so well lived and so lived full of love that will go on in your lives and even into other generations."

Pte Rooney was shot dead when the vehicle he was driving came under fire in the village of Al-Aqbiya, south of Beirut.

The 24-year-old was a specialist driver in the United National Interim Forces in Lebanon (Unifil).

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