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1982: A year of tragedy for Irish soldiers in the Lebanon

Documents from 1982 capture the immediate aftermath of the moment when Michael McAleavey shot dead three of his colleagues at Tibnin Bridge in South Lebanon.

The Irish Army commemorating involvement in the UNIFIL mission in the Lebanon in 2001.
The Irish Army commemorating involvement in the UNIFIL mission in the Lebanon in 2001.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

FILES RELEASED UNDER the 30-year-rule have given an insight into the tragedies which befell Irish solders serving in the Lebanon in 1982.

On 20 March, Private Gerard Hodges, who had been serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), succumbed to injuries sustained after a cooker explosion.

Just over six months later, Commandant Michael Nestor, who was serving with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), was transferred to Beirut.

To view larger image, please click here.

(Taken from file 2012/59/107, available from the National Archives)

Less than a week later, he was dead – killed by a roadside mine on 25 September.

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(Taken from file 2012/59/107, available from the National Archives)

Tibnin Bridge

Perhaps the most shocking event, however, took place at around 8pm on the night of 27 October.

Private Michael McAleavey was manning a UN observation post at Tibnin Bridge in South Lebanon. With him were fellow privates Peter Burke and Thomas Murphy, along with Corporal Gary Morrow.

Minutes later three of the four were dead.

To view larger image, please click here.

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(Taken from file 2012/59/107, available from the National Archives)

In the days that followed, little was known, other than the fact that Private McAleavey was still alive and the others were dead.

To view larger image, please click here.

(Taken from file 2012/59/107, available from the National Archives)

Having initially said that pro-Israeli militia had been responsible for the deaths of his three colleagues, McAleavey was later found to have killed the three of them in cold blood.

Having served 27 years of a life sentence for the killings, he was released from prison in 2010.

About the author:

Paul Hyland

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