Cobh Pay Tribute To Irish Soldiers Lost While On Peace Keeping Missions In Lebanon

Photos By Rory O'Toole

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A tree planting ceremony in memory of the 47 Irish defence personnel, who lost their lives while on peace keeping missions in the Lebanon, was held in Cobh last Saturday 28 September.
The event which saw the planting of a Lebanese Cedar tree took place in the Bible garcen of St Benedicts Priory. The event was attended by Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton, Guy Jones chairman and founder of the Irish Lebanese Cultural Foundation, members of the O.N.E and military representatives.
Since Ireland joined the United Nations in 1955, the army has been deployed on many peace keeping missions overseas.
The first of these took place in 1958 when a small number of observers were sent to Lebanon.
From 1978 to 2001 a battalion of Irish soldiers was deployed in southern Lebanon under the UN’s UNIFIL force.
30,000 Irish military personnel served in the area over the 23 years period.
Initially they were sent to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the region following an invasion in 1978 and prevent fighting between the PLO forces and Israel.
The invasion was a direct response to the killing of 38 Israeli civilians including 13 children by PLO militants south of Haifa, Israel, which became known as the Coastal Road Massacre.
On 16 April 1980, Private Stephen Griffin of the 46th Irish Battalion became the first Irish soldier to lose his life.
He was killed near At Tiri in Southern Lebanon while his troop attempted to set up a checkpoint.
Two days later 2 more soldiers lost their lives when their convoy was intercepted en route to a UN post near the Israeli border by members of the South Lebanon Army.
Another Israeli invasion in 1982 saw further loss of Irish personnel in the role as observers.
A total of 47 soldiers were killed during the Guerrilla warfare up to 2001.
In 2011 Irish Battalions returned to the region which is at present stable

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