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Private Seán Rooney.
UN peacekeeping

Private Seán Rooney to be honoured with posthumous award at UN ceremony

Private Rooney is to be awarded posthumously for his service in Lebanon by the UN security council.

IRISH PEACEKEEPER SEÁN Rooney is to be honoured tomorrow at a UN ceremony that will mark the 50th anniversary of peacekeeping operations. 

Private Rooney (23), was killed while on duty in Lebanon on 14 December, when a group of armed men shot at a UN Interim Force (UNIFIL) vehicle he was travelling in near the village of al-Aqbiya. 

Three other peacekeepers were injured in the attack, including Private Shane Kearney, who was left in a critical condition, and has had a long road to recovery. 

Private Rooney was laid to rest in Donegal last year. His family, friends, and the country at large mourned his death. 

His mother Natasha, speaking at the funeral said that her son is a “national hero”. 

“In Seán’s life, I found purpose,” she said.

“In his death, I will find a new purpose… I will love you forever, son, and I cannot wait to be reunited with you in heaven,” she added. 

Tomorrow Private Rooney will be honoured with a posthumous Dag Hammarskjold medal award from the UN Security Council, “as a tribute to the sacrifice of those who have lost their life as a result of service in peacekeeping operations under the operational control and authority of the United Nations”.

The medal was first presented to the family of Dag Hammarskjold -  a Swedish economist and diplomat who served as Secretary-General of the UN, and died in a plane crash. 

Tomorrow the award will be presented to the families of military personnel who lost their lives serving in UN peacekeeping operations in 39 different regions. 

The Lebanese Armed Forces, and the UN, have also awarded Private Rooney with a number of different medals for his service. 

47 Irish soldiers have died while serving as part of UNIFIL. Some died in action, while others died in traffic collisions, in accidents, and of other causes. 

Private Rooney had strong links to Dundalk in Co Louth and Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal, as he lived in both areas at different times growing up. 

He was due to marry his fiance Holly McConnellogue in August of this year. 

When stationed in Ireland, he was based out of Aiken Barracks in Dundalk as part of the 27th Infantry Battalion. 

Private Rooney, alongside other members of his family, was a member of the Na Piarsaigh/ Blackrock GAA in Dundalk.

Military personnel that knew Private Rooney have continued to honour his memory, alongside the rest of the Defence Forces in Ireland. 

Recently, the second Cavalry Squadron, which was the unit Seán served in, made a visit to his mother’s home

They presented his mother Natasha with a range of awards and accolades, including Certificate of Membership to the Presidential Motorcycle Escort of Honour, a Cumann na mBan trophy and medal. 

The trophy was inscripted with the message: “Always in our thoughts, from your friends in the 2nd Cavalry Squadron”. 

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