Irish peacekeeper Private Seán Rooney who was killed last year is honoured by the UN

UN Secretary General warns conflicts are becoming more complex and peace processes are stagnating

Irish peacekeeper Private Seán Rooney, who was killed while on duty in Lebanon last December, has been posthumously honoured by the United Nations.

At a ceremony in New York on Thursday Irish ambassador to the UN Fergal Mythen received the Dag Hammarskjöld medal on behalf of the family of Private Rooney.

Private Rooney, who was 24, who was serving with serving with the 121st Infantry Battalion with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, was killed when his convoy was attacked in in Al-Aqbieh, just outside the UN-affiliated group’s area of operations in December.

At the ceremony at UN headquarters on Thursday its secretary general António Guterres said Private Rooney was one of 103 peacekeepers across the work who were killed in 2022 .


He said overall 4,200 peacekeepers have lost their lives over the years while serving with the United Nations.

He said peacekeepers or “Blue Helmets” represented “a beacon of hope and protection”.

“They support security, stability and the rule of law in host countries. They represent the beating heart of the United Nations’ commitment to peace. "

Mr Guterres said that this year the UN was commemorating 75 years of peacekeeping across the world.

He said what began “as a bold experiment with the deployment of a small number of military observers to the Middle East in 1948 is now a flagship enterprise of our organisation”.

However, he expressed concern that UN peacekeepers were facing “a daunting array of rising global tensions and divides”.

“Conflicts are becoming more complex. Peace processes are stagnating. Terrorism, armed groups, gang violence, and transnational crime are poisoning communities, countries and entire regions. "

“And the digital world has become a frightening frontier of tension, division, hate and mis and disinformation.

Sadly, our peacekeepers are increasingly working in places where there is no peace to keep. "

He said “we must seriously reflect on the need for a new generation of peace-enforcement missions and counter-terrorism operations, led by our partners with a UN Security Council mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, with guaranteed funding, namely through assessed contributions”.

Dag Hammarskjöld medals, named in honour of the Swedish diplomat who served as UN secretary general, are awarded each year in respect of peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent