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TDs shared tributes to Private Seán Rooney and his family.

Dáil observes a minute's silence for Irish soldier Seán Rooney

TDs expressed their condolences to the family of Seán Rooney.

TDS PAUSED FOR a minute’s silence this afternoon for Seán Rooney the Irish soldier killed in Lebanon. 

Private Rooney was 23 years old and from Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal. 

Another soldier – 22-year-old Shane Kearney from Killeagh in Co Cork – was seriously injured in the incident and remains in a critical condition in hospital.   

An investigation is taking place into the death into the circumstances surrounding the attack. The soldiers were serving as part of UNIFIL – the UN peacekeeping mission in the country – when the convoy came under attack at around 11.15pm local time (9.15pm Irish time) last night. 

UNIFIL said it happened near the village of Al-Aqbiya, just outside the force’s area of operations in a strip along Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who is in Brussels for an EU Council Summit, said he shares a “deep sense of sadness and shock” following the death of the peacekeeper. 

“I want to express the heartfelt sorrow of the Government of Ireland at the loss of a young person serving overseas with the United Nations,” he said.  

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Ireland was united in grief at the loss of the soldier. 

“Our thoughts are with the bereaved family, and with the families of the injured. We salute the bravery of all concerned.”

Peacekeeping heroes

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald expressed her condolences to the families of those impacted, in particular the family of Private Seán Rooney but also the family of Shane Kearney.

McDonald said her thoughts were also with the members of the Irish Defence Forces serving overseas, those serving with UNIFIL and the soldiers of the 121st Infantry Battalion, which she said the coming days and weeks will be especially difficult for.

“Our peacekeepers are heroes,” she said, adding that they “define the Irish spirit of courage, compassion, caring, and our inherent desire to keep people safe”.

“This tragedy underscores the very serious risks and real danger they face in the name of peace. They carry out their duties on the ground with communities and they protect people by putting their lives on the line. We do not nor will we ever take for granted their bravery, their integrity, and their inspiring sense of duty. We also recognise the resilience of their families, who often go for very long periods without seeing them,” she said

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik said: “At this time, I think we’re all conscious of the immense courage of our Defense Forces personnel. We’re all conscious of the immense sacrifice that both they and their families give in being away from home for so long. And it must be particularly hard at this time, with this shocking news, for the families of all those Defense Forces personnel serving overseas, and indeed for all of those who are abroad on peacekeeping missions.”

People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Paul Murphy expressed his deepest condolences to the family, friends, community and comrades of Private Sean Rooney.

“They obviously received the most horrific, most shocking news about the death of their friend or family member or colleague. The whole country I think shares in their sorrow and stands with them,” he said.

Independent TD Denis Naughten Seán Rooney “made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of international peace”.

He also wished the speedy recovery to all those that have been wounded stating his thoughts were with the entire defence community both overseas and at home.

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan spoke of a previous trip to Egypt where he met with the Secretary General of the Arab League. He said the secretary general said they would never forget the Irish peacekeepers in Lebanon and what they have done over the years.

He said that might be very little comfort to the Rooney family today.

Seán Rooney “put himself at risk for us, trying to protect peace in the world. It is a loss for us all. I pray that Shane Kearney and those wounded return home, please God, for Christmas”, added Ryan.

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