An Irish peacekeeper has died in Lebanon and another has been seriously injured, the Department of Defence has announced.
Late on Wednesday, a convoy of two Armoured Utility Vehicles with eight personnel onboard came under fire while travelling to Beirut.
Personnel were taken to a hospital near Sidon; one soldier was pronounced dead on arrival, another was wheeled into surgery and two more were treated for minor injuries.
The other four personnel were not injured.
We are deeply shocked and saddened at the loss of life of one of our peacekeepers in Lebanon, and the serious injuries to another.
It is a reminder to us all of the extraordinary sacrifices our peacekeepers make, in at times hostile and very dangerous environments. #EUCO pic.twitter.com/ioxXXb29Kh
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) December 15, 2022
Minister Simon Coveney said he had been informed in the early hours of this morning and wished to convey his “utmost sorrow at the loss of a young man serving his country and the United Nations overseas.”
Currently, Minister Coveney is in New York for a meeting of the UN Security Council but he will return to Ireland this evening to discuss the incident and the investigation into it.
“To the families of those injured, I want you to know the Defence Forces will do everything to care for and support your loved ones,” he said.
“To the wider Defence Force family and to all those who serve overseas, I know how deeply you will feel this loss and I know the support you will give each other will be vital in the days and weeks ahead.”
In a statement, President Michael D Higgins said:
"As President of Ireland and Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, it is with a heavy heart, and conscious of the great loss it will represent to them, that I offer my deepest condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the member of the Defence Forces who has lost their life.
"A life lost serving the people of Ireland, serving the United Nations, and serving all those wishing for peace in our shared world.
"May I also wish a speedy recovery to those other members of the Defence Forces injured in the incident. Our thoughts are with them at this time.”
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon operates with 10,500 peacekeepers from 48 countries.
Over 30,000 Irish personnel have served in Lebanon since the establishment of UNIFL in 1978.
Main image: Shoulder patch of a soldier from the Irish Army. Picture by: Alamy.com