We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

The body of Private Seán Rooney arrives at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, west Dublin PA
private Sean rooney

Funeral of Private Seán Rooney to take place on Thursday

An Air Corps plane carrying the deceased peacekeeper landed in Dublin this morning.

LAST UPDATE | 19 Dec 2022

THE FUNERAL OF Private Seán Rooney will take place later this week, after his body returned to Ireland this morning following its repatriation from Lebanon.

The Defence Forces announced that Rooney will be buried with full military honours in Donegal on Thursday.

His removal will take place in Dundalk at 9am on Thursday morning, followed by a burial service in All Saints Catholic Church, Colehill, Donegal at around 3.30pm that afternoon.

It comes after an Air Corps plane carrying the deceased peacekeeper landed in Dublin at around 8.30am today.

The 23-year-old’s remains left Beirut Airport yesterday afternoon after a solemn UN ceremony was held to honour the soldier ahead of his journey home.

Before leaving Beirut, Pte Rooney was awarded a number of honours posthumously, including a peacekeeping medal from the UN and an appreciation medal from the Lebanese armed forces.

He was accompanied on the flight by a number of his colleagues from 121 Infantry Battalion, including his company commander, who are understood to have never left his side.

A short prayer service was held after his body was returned to his family at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, Dublin. A white coffin draped in the tricolour was carried out of the plane by a number of pall bearers.

The Defence Forces have opened an online book of condolences to allow people to share their sympathies with his loved ones. 

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Caroline Conroy, has also opened an online book of condolences for Pte Rooney’s family.

The Lord Mayor said in a statement: “Private Rooney lost his life serving the People of Ireland, the United Nations and protecting those who strive for peace across the world. My sincere sympathies go to his family, his army colleagues and all who knew him.”

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Micheal Martin stood beside the landing strip.

pte sean rooney 610 Tánaiste Micheál Martin greets the plane repatriating Pte Seán Rooney Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Pte Rooney’s coffin was then marched to a nearby hangar, where he was reunited with members of his grieving family.

His mother, his fiancee, his mother’s partner, his grandfather and his three uncles who have served in the Defence Forces were among those present.

They were given time alone with the remains before a short prayer service was held.

PTE SEAN ROONEY 07 Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The white coffin, draped in an Irish tricolour, was driven away in a hearse accompanied by a Garda escort shortly afterwards.

Details of Pte Rooney’s funeral have yet to be announced.

0299f41f-caf3-433a-9c54-298db0a54635 (1) UNIFIL Strategic Communications & Public Information Office UNIFIL Strategic Communications & Public Information Office

Three investigations are under way into his death: one led by the UN, another by the Defence Forces and a third by the Lebanese government.

His colleague, Private Shane Kearney, from Killeagh, Co Cork, was seriously injured in the incident. He remains in a serious condition in hospital but is now breathing independently.

Two other peacekeepers were treated for minor injuries.

The soldiers were part of 121st Infantry Battalion, comprising 333 Irish troops, which was deployed in November to south Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).

Unifil acts as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel, neighbours which remain technically at war. The force operates in the south near the border, a stronghold of Iran-backed group Hezbollah.

Hezbollah security chief Wafic Safa has said the killing was “unintentional”.

It is the first death of a Unifil member in a violent incident in Lebanon since January 2015, when a Spanish peacekeeper was killed by Israeli fire.

9b8de4de-a192-4e1e-aa23-35d7075e39c4 UNIFIL Strategic Communications & Public Information Office UNIFIL Strategic Communications & Public Information Office

Unifil was set up in 1978 to monitor the withdrawal of Israeli forces after they invaded Lebanon in reprisal for a Palestinian attack.

Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000 but fought a devastating 2006 war with Hezbollah and its allies.

Additional reporting by PA and AFP

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel