UN Peacekeepers Day: Commemorations in Ireland

International Newspapers

The United Nations General Assembly resolution 57/129 of 11 December 2002 designated 29 May as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.
International NewspapersOn 29 May 2013 on the theme ‘UN Peacekeeping : Adapting to new challenges’, at UN headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General will preside over a wreath laying ceremony in honour of all peacekeepers who gave their lives while serving under the UN flag. In addition the Dag Hammarskjold Medal is awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers fallen while serving the cause of the United Nations during the preceding year in the service of peace as a result of violence, accidents or disease.
In addition to solemn events at United Nations offices, alongside Member States and non-governmental organisations, around the world the Day is used to strengthen bonds with local populations by those deployed to serve. For example, by holding sporting events, school and orphanage visits, art and essay competitions, photo exhibitions, neighbourhood clean ups, tree plantings, concerts, and conferences on peace issues.
Commemorations in Ireland
With a long serving history, Irish troops continue to be deployed by the Defence Forces as part of United Nations missions. In 2012 six unarmed military observers joined the United Nations mission in torn-strife Syria and a battalion of Irish troops joined Finnish soldiers in a joint deployment in south Lebanon adjacent to Israel for six months. The Irish soldiers from the 106th Battalion were drawn from twenty four counties, many of whom were on a first tour of duty overseas.
Organised by the Irish United Nations Veterans Association, on 19 May 2013 the Annual Wreath-laying Ceremony was held at The Irish UN Memorial Garden, Arbour House, Dublin. The ceremony is attended by many civic, military and other representatives including families, friends and members of the public who also participate.
2013 commemorated the 50th anniversary of two members of the Defence Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving with UN peacekeeping forces in the Congo during 1963. It honoured the 92 personnel of the Defence Forces, An Garda Siochana and Civilian Personnel who died while serving on UN peacekeeping missions throughout the world from 1960 to 2013 in Congo, Cyprus, Lebanon, Mid-East, Somalia, Sarajevo, East Timor, Liberia, Haiti, and Sweden (Nordic Battle Group).
As soldiers of peace (UN : We believe), the Roll Call is long and their names are inscribed on the Memorial Stone in The Irish UN Memorial Garden, not to be forgotten.
Ita Marguet, May 2013
Note : Acknowledgement is given to sources used in preparation of this text. It follows articles on United Nations and Ireland (2004), Ireland and United Nations (2005), National Day of Commemoration (2010), Irish U.N. Veterans Association (2010), Ireland : United Nations Peacekeeping (2011), United Nations Peacekeeping : Soldiers of Peace (2011) by Ita Marguet.

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