Taoiseach hopes to visit Lebanon in the wake of Private Seán Rooney's death

Taoiseach Hopes To Visit Lebanon In The Wake Of Private Seán Rooney's Death
It comes as Lebanon’s Hezbollah handed over a man suspected of killing the UN peacekeeper to Lebanese Armed Forces. Photo: Collins Photos
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Kenneth Fox

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he plans to make a visit to Irish Peacekeepers serving abroad in the wake of the death of Private Seán Rooney.

As the Irish Examiner reports, it comes as Lebanon’s Hezbollah handed over a man suspected of killing the UN peacekeeper to Lebanese Armed Forces.


The man, described as a blacksmith in his 30s, may have followed the armoured Unifil vehicle for more than 15 minutes before the attack.

Hezbollah claim the man, who is from the Adloun region of south Lebanon and was carrying a Kalashnikov weapon when arrested, is a supporter of the Iran-backed militia and political party, but not a member of the group.

Pte Rooney, 24, was killed and three others injured on December 14th when their vehicle was attacked near the village of Al-Aqbiya in the country's south, a Hezbollad stronghold.

Mr Varadkar said he hopes plans can be made to visit troops in 2023 in light of Pte Rooney's killing.


“On the issue in relation to travel abroad, I haven’t got any plans at the moment to travel to Mali, Lebanon or Syria, but I might be able to do that perhaps sometime next year.

“I did have a chance to meet with Private Rooney’s family and also Private Kearney’s family," Mr Varadkar said.

The Taoiseach said he would be looking at his travel schedule, which already includes his regular attendance at EU Council meetings in Brussels as well as trips to the British/Irish Parliamentary Council as well, "but it is something I’d certainly hope to fit in if I can".

Varadkar travelled to Lebabon in 2017 where he laid a wreath to commemorate the peacekeeping soldiers who have died on the United Nations mission since it began in 1978.


Details of Unifil's preliminary report into Pte Rooney’s death are be released "in days".

However, video of the incident shows the Unifil vehicle swerving past a group of people near a junction of two roads leading out of the town of Sarafand at around midnight, last Wednesday night, and into Al-Aqibiya.

After the white Unifil-marked armoured jeep appears to collide with a parked car, it then drives up the main street out of the village on the Baissariye road towards Route 51.

As it leaves, a volley of shots can be heard being fired at and into the vehicle.

Moments later, it collided with a pylon, turned over and crashed into a shop.

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