22 December 2022

Funeral of Irish soldier killed in Lebanon under way

22 December 2022

The funeral of an Irish peacekeeping soldier who was killed in Lebanon has heard “today is the most difficult of days”.

A member of the Irish Defence Forces, Private Sean Rooney, from Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal, was killed when his convoy came under attack last week.

The 24-year-old’s body was returned to his family after being repatriated from Lebanon on Monday.

Pte Rooney’s remains were taken to Holy Family Church in Dundalk for 9am Mass.

The coffin carrying his body was carried into the church by his family and members of the Defence Forces.

The Irish tricolour and a UN flag were draped over his coffin.

“Today is the most difficult of days,” the priest told the congregation in his opening words.

Irish President Michael D Higgins, Irish premier Leo Varadkar and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris are among those in attendance.

Later Pte Rooney will be taken to All Saints Catholic Church in Colehill, Co Donegal, for a burial service with full military honours.

Before his body left Beirut on a flight home, 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 home by a number of colleagues from 121 Infantry Battalion, including his company commander, who are understood to have never left his side.

Another soldier who was injured in the same incident was flown back to Ireland on Wednesday to receive further medical treatment.

Irish Army Private Shane Kearney, 22, from Killeagh, Co Cork, suffered a serious head injury.

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).

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