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United Nations Web Site

Dept of Defence Ireland

A Comment by Former US President Bill Clinton on Ireland's contribution to the UN

"I would like to just say, because I can't leave Ireland without acknowledging this, that there are few nations that have contributed more than Ireland, even in times which were difficult for this country, to the cause of peace and human rights around the world. You have given us now Mary Robinson to serve internationally in that cause. But since peacekeeping began for the United Nations 40 years ago, 75 Irish soldiers have given their lives.

Today we work shoulder to shoulder in Bosnia and the Middle East. But I think you should know, that as nearly as I can determine, in the 40 years in which the world has been working together on peacekeeping, the only country in the world which has never taken a single, solitary day off from the cause of world peace to the United Nations peacekeeping operations is Ireland. And I thank you. " REMARKS BY   PRESIDENT CLINTON TO BUSINESS LEADERS, AND OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES OF GATEWAY COMPUTERS  Dublin Sept 4th 1998

Ireland's History with the UN ( Photographs of Irish Soldiers on duty with the UN )

Ireland became a member of the United Nations in 1955. In 1958 fifty Irish officers were appointed as observers with the U.N. Observers Group in the Lebanon. Since 1958 the Defence Forces has had a continuous presence on peacekeeping missions, mainly in the Middle East. On the 28th July 1960 Lt-Col. Murt Buckley led the men of the 32nd Irish Battalion out to the Congo. Twenty-six men died in the Congo, 9 died in one action, the Niemba ambush.

However, in recent years, following the end of the cold war, Irish Defence Forces Personnel have also found themselves in many other parts of the globe as observers and peacekeepers. Personnel have served in the five countries of Central America, Europe, Russia, former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Belgian Congo (Zaire), Namibia, Western Sahara, Somalia South Africa Cyprus  Lebanon and East Timor

 Military Observer Missions are manned by unarmed military observers. In 1958 the Defence Forces made their first contribution to peacekeeping when some fifty officers were assigned to the United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL). Since 1958 the Defence Forces has continuously had personnel overseas as observers on peacekeeping missions.

  Peacekeeping Force Missions are manned by armed contingents from member states placed under the command of the United Nations. From 1960 to the present day the Irish Defence Forces have continuously provided an armed contingent to the UN, except during the period May 1974 to May 1978. These contingents were normally an infantry battalion of approximately 600 personnel or an infantry group of over 400 personnel.

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Central America

ONUCA (UN OBSERVER GROUP IN CENTRAL AMERICA)  Irelands commitment to this mission was 57 officers. It began on 03 Dec 89 as a result of the 'Esquipulas II' Agreement and lasted until 27 Jan 92. Irish Observers served in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Their mission was to verify the termination of aid to irregular forces and insurrection movements and the non-use of territory of one state for attacks on another. Their headquarters was established in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and 33 verification centres spread throughout the region.

ONUSAL (UN OBSERVER MISSION IN EL SALVADOR) On the day that ONUCA was terminated, Observers from that Mission converged on El Salvador to staff the new ONUSAL Mission. ONUSAL's establishment followed the signing of a Peace Accord between the El Salvadoran Government and the FMLN rebels, who had been fighting since 1979.

The key aspects of the accord were a 50 per cent reduction of the El Salvadoran Armed Forces ; the legalising of FMLN as a legitimate political party and the destruction of its weaponry; the establishment of a new judicial system; and the setting up of a new police force to include a percentage of FMLN supporters. Under ONUSAL's supervision, the terms of the Accord were substantially achieved. Irish Observers served with the UN Observer Mission in El Salvador from 21 Jan 92 to 31 May 94. Our commitment to this mission was six Officers.

IHSG (IRISH HONDURAN SUPPORT GROUP)  As part of the Irish Government's response to the post Hurricane Mitch relief effort, an Army reconnaissance party was dispatched to Honduras on 01 November 1998.

As a consequence the Irish Honduran Support Group (IHSG) was formed and in January of 1999, the group traveled to Honduras and successfully carried out it's task of building a combination Health Centre - Kindergarten and the first two classrooms of an elementary school in the area of Santa Rosa de Aguan.

Total strength was 27 all ranks which consisted of Engineer, Army Medical Corps personnel a Chaplain and an administrative staff.


Belgian Congo

The Belgian Congo became an independent Republic on 30 June 1960. Twelve days later, the Congolese government requested military assistance from the United Nations to maintain territorial integrity. The Irish government agreed to a request from the Secretary General for a force of Irish troops to serve with the UN Force in the Congo, now Zaire, and so the Defence Forces' involvement in Africa began when they sent a battalion to ONUC.

During the following four years the UN involvement in the Congo was both extensive and complicated involving an unusually large force which at its peak numbered 20,000 troops. Irish troops were in action alongside many other nationalities for the first time in their history

The Congo operation marked the first opportunity for the Irish Defence Forces to serve alongside armies from other nations. This experience showed that Irish troops were as well trained and suited to peacekeeping as any other nationality. Subsequent peacekeeping experiences have reinforced this conviction.


In 1989 the Defence Forces served again in Africa when they sent observers to Namibia as part of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) to over see elections there.

Since then observers have served in:


Second United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM 11) in Angola to verify the cease-fire agreed by the Angolan parties.

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Western Sahara

United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to verify the cease-fire and cessation of hostilities between the Government of Morocco and the Polisario.


South Africa

The EU Mission to South Africa to monitor the first elections with a universal franchise.



In August 1993, for the first time, the Defence Forces sent troops abroad as part of a peace-enforcing mission to Somalia. The United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II) was different from other missions that the Defence Forces had been involved in because it was mandated to use force to impose a cease-fire. The Defence Forces contribution to UNOSOM II consists of almost 100 personnel comprising of a transport company based in Baidoa and also personnel in the Force headquarters.


The breakup of the former USSR and the emergence of nationalism have led to the requirement for peacekeeping forces to be deployed in parts of Eastern Europe. As a result Ireland has provided observers, not only to the UN, but also to the European Community (EC), now the European Union (EU), for the first time. This commenced in 1991 with the EC Military Mission in former Yugoslavia. Since then observers have served there and also with EC Task Forces, in both Russia and the former Yugoslavia.

In addition Irish observers have also served in former Yugoslavia with the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), its forerunner the United Nations Military Liaison Office in Yugoslavia (UNMLOY) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees - Yuglosavia (UNHCR(Y)).

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Middle East

Since 1958 Defence Forces personnel have served in UNTSO, which was established in 1948 to supervise the observance of the truce in Palestine.

UNTSO, with its headquarters in Jerusalem, has observers stationed in Israel and its neighbouring countries Egypt, Jordan. Lebanon and Syria.

In addition to its primary role UNTSO has also assisted in the establishment of UNEF 11 in the Sinai following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, and continues to provide observers under operational control to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force UNDOF) on the Golan Heights.

In the Israeli-Lebanon sector some UNTSO observers helped to establish UNIFIL in 1978 and now form Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) which is under the operational control of the UNIFIL Force Commander.



Following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978, United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon -UNIFIL -. was established to supervise the withdrawal of Israeli forces and restore peace and security to the area.

Since then the Defence Forces have had an infantry battalion (of approx. 580 personnel) in Lebanon, which rotates every six months, plus almost 100 others in UNIFIL headquarters and the Force Mobile Reserve.

The battalion's headquarters is located in Tibnin and the battalion is responsible for an area of approx. 80 square kilometers. It performs its duties mainly by providing a presence in the area, by operating patrols and checkpoints, and manning observation posts. The battalion also renders humanitarian assistance to the local population. The presence of the Irish battalion in South Lebanon has undoubtedly helped to restore a certain normality to the area, as evidenced by the increase in population and economic activity in the region.

Mortar attack in Lebanon

Four Soldiers killed in Lebanon car crash


On the 4th March 1964 a U.N resolution was passed for a 7,000 strong peacekeeping force to be sent to Cyprus. This force was called UNFICYP . Irish troops served alongside troops from Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. It also meant that British and Irish forces were serving to-gether in a situation similar to that in Northern Ireland.


East Timor

  This mission was established in September 1999, under United Nations Security Resolution 1264/99.  This resolution, adopted under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, authorises the Australian led international peacekeeping force to use "all means necessary" to :-


Irish Defence Forces Press Release

The Irish Army Ranger Wing along with a national support element of  Irish logistics and technical experts drawn from other  units of the Defence Forces operate with the New Zealand Battle Group consisting of New Zealand,    Canadian, and Irish troops. Irish troops began  participating  in this mission on 12 October

This afternoon, Tuesday the 12th of October, the Dail agreed to send the Army Ranger Wing to East Timor to serve with the United Nations International Force, East Timor. (INTERFET). INTERFET is mandated under the UN Security Council Resolution 1264/99. This Resolution, adopted under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, authorises the Australian led international peacekeeping force to use "all means necessary" to restore peace and security in East Timor, protect and support UNAMET in carrying out its tasks, and to where possible facilitate humanitarian assistance operations.

The ARW detachment numbering 30 personnel, known as the No. 1 Irish Contingent, INTERFET, will come under the Operational Control, (OPCON) of the New Zealand Battalion Group. The ARW detachment will be involved in Peacekeeping duties with Canadian and New Zealand troops adjacent the border area with West Timor.

The Irish Troops will come under the overall command of Lieutenant Colonel Derry Fitzgerald who will be the Senior Irish Officer, (SIO), based at the Irish Component Headquarters in Dili. The Irish presence in theatre will be supported by troops from the National Support Element,(NSE), consisting of logisticians and technical staff based at the Australian Armed Forces Forward Mounting Base, (FMB) in Darwin and Dili.

The mission that the Irish troops have undertaken as part of INTERFET was secured by the Defence Forces Reconnaissance team consisting of the Director of Operations, Colonel Frank Mc Kevitt, the Officer Commanding the Ranger Wing, and Captain Eoin Stapleton, (logistics), DFHQ. The Recce team visited Australian Defence Forces Headquarters in Canberra and met with Major General Cosgrove, INTERFET Force Commander in Dili.

The Dail decision to send the ARW detachment comes after the Minister for Defence briefed the Government on INTERFET following a Defence Forces Reconnaissance mission to the area. The Army Recce team consisted of the Director of Operations, Colonel Frank Mc Kevitt, the Commanding Officer of the Ranger Wing, and a logistics expert, Captain Eoin Stapleton from DFHQ. The Recce Team departed Ireland on the 19th of September and visited the Australian Armed Forces Command in Canberra. From there the team visited Major General Cosgrove the Force Commander in Darwin and Dili. The team conducted an on the ground fact finding tour in Dili where they liaised with Irish Army personnel from UNAMET. These personnel, Lt Col Pat O' Sullivan, and Comdts Sean Fox and Matt Murray gave the Recce Team a detailed operations and intelligence brief for the mission area. As a result of this reconnaissance mission a proposed role for the ARW was secured. The Recce Team returned on the 30th of September and reported to the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General David Stapleton and the Minister for Defence.

The Army Ranger Wing along with a national support element of fifteen Irish logistics and technical experts drawn from other units of the Defence Forces will deploy to Townsville in Northern Australia tomorrow morning, October the 13th at approximately 7 a.m.. Townsville is similar in climate, flora and fauna to East Timor and will function as an acclimatisation post, tropical warfare training centre and staging post for subsequent deployment to Dili. All troops deploying to East Timor are required to undergo this training in what is the Australian Armed Forces' Jungle Warfare Training Area. This Force Preparation Unit, (FPU), will include instruction on patrolling, search, checkpoint drills, and tactical exercises designed to enhance the interoperability of multinational formations on the ground in East Timor.

One of the major components of the training in Townsville will be the Intelligence Briefings on the Timorese militias mandatory for all INTERFET troops. The Intelligence briefings will give the detachment an up to date operational overview of the mission to East Timor and will give an accurate picture of the militias strengths, deployments, armaments and dispositions. These briefings will complement those briefings received by the troops at home from the Director of Operations and his staff at the Overseas Section in Defence Forces Headquarters in Dublin. The troops will also receive extensive training in Medevac (Medical Evacuation) procedures and hygiene and sanitation in the field. This training will continue until the 25th of October when the Army Ranger Wing Contingent will deploy to East Timor itself.

The troops of the ARW will be deployed as part of the New Zealand led Battle Group which will be based to the west of Dili. The New Zealand Battle Group will consist of New Zealand, Canadian and Irish Troops. The tasking and exact location of the troops will be confirmed later in the month as the tactical situation dictates. It is anticipated however that the Battalion will be based close to the border with West Timor. The Ranger Wing Detachment deployed with this Group will be employed in normal peace keeping duties in support of the overall aims of the UNAMET mandate which is to oversee the transition to autonomy of East Timor.

The ARW was formally established in March 1980 in accordance with the Defence Act in response to an increase in international terrorism. The unit specialises in Special Operations, Counter Insurgency Warfare as well as Conventional Operations and Offensive tactical doctrine. The unit is well equipped and trained to the highest international standards. Several members of the unit have attended courses at special forces centres worldwide and the unit has trained with the members of other special forces including the US Rangers and the German GSG9 unit. The ARW are armed with Steyr, Heckler and Koch, Sig Sauer and Glock automatic weapons. Whilst in-theatre, the ARW detachment will use Australian Holden four wheel drive all- terrain vehicles leased for this mission from the Australian Armed Forces. All of the members of the Army Ranger Wing Detachment deploying to East Timor have previous overseas experience. The total number of troops deploying with the ARW detachment is thirty four.

The ARW detachment will come under the command of the Irish Component Headquarters based in Dili. The Component will come under the Command of Lieutenant Colonel Derry Fitzgerald the Senior Irish Officer in the Area of Operations. Lieutenant Colonel Fitzgerald, originally from Loughrea in Co. Galway now lives in Lucan in Co. Dublin with his wife Maria and their four children. Lt Col Fitzgerald has served overseas previously in the Lebanon with UNIFIL including service as Aide de Comp to the Force Commander in 1987/88. He also served with UNDOF in the Golan heights in 1998. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College in the Military College in the Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC) and holds an MBA from University College, Dublin. He is a keen rugby player having captained Monkstown Rugby club and having represented Connacht at senior level. His brother Ciaran captained the Lions and Ireland Rugby teams.

The Irish Component Headquarters will be supported by the National Support Element, (NSE) subdivided between Darwin and Dili. The NSE consisting of six will ensure a rear link to the Australian Field Command in Darwin and Canberra, and the Defence Forces overseas section at DFHQ in Dublin. The NSE will ensure logistics and communications support for the ARW detachment in the field.

This brings to a total of forty troops contributed by Ireland to INTERFET. When fully deployed INTERFET will consist of two Brigades numbering approximately nine thousand troops. The main contributing nations include, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Fiji, France, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Portugal, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Britain and the United States. This brings to a total of approximately 900 the number of Irish troops serving abroad on various international missions. This figure is in excess of that required under the UNSAS (United Nations Stand By Arrangement System) to which we are signatories. It also represents roughly 10% of our Army strength which in military terms is quite a significant commitment. This reflects our standing as sixth in the world as contributors to UN peacekeeping .


Some Irish Military and Un Military associated Sites and Stories

Latest Link >>>

62nd Infantry Battalion
Irish Army Reserve


The War Room    
2nd Cavalry Squadron Irish Air Corps Photographs 5th Field Military Police Company







Four Killed in Air Corps Helicopter Crash

Irish Defence Forces Army Ranger Wing



Australian Peacekeepers Peacemakers Association

  Permanent Defence Forces other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA Ireland Connaught Rangers
1916,Rebellion Walking Tours Somme Heritage Centre Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association
Polish Association of Veterans Veteran-Nett Norwegian Military Veterans  
Timoney Technology makers of the Timoney Armoured vehicle RDFA Reserve Defence Force Representative Association Irish Defence Forces Insignia Collection
  Alternative Homepage of the Irish Defence Forces Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN
The Irish in others wars and armies Irish in world conflicts  
  Irish WW2 Medals Irish Seamen's Relatives Association

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Thanks to Raymond Smith for his book "Under The Blue Flag" which I used for reference material  and to The Irish Defence Forces Web Site.


Four Killed in Air Corps Helicopter Crash

An Air Corps helicopter crashed in dense fog in County Waterford, resulting in the deaths of its four-man crew. The Dauphin helicopter burst into flames, after it crashed down into a large sand dune at Tramore beach. The crew members, who were in their late twenties or early thirties, have been named as Captain Dave O’Flaherty, from Lucan in Dublin; Captain Michael Baker, from Wexford; Sergeant Paddy Mooney, from Meath; and Corporal Niall Byrne, from Dublin.  The four were returning from a successful rescue mission, but crashed having aborted three attempted landings at Waterford Airport due to the foggy conditions. The Dauphin helicopter only began operating from County Waterford yesterday, in order to give the region a 24-hour rescue service. It had replaced the Alouette, which can only fly during daylight hours. This is the first crash of an Air Corps helicopter in active service in the history of the state.   President Mary McAleese and the Taoiseach have led the messages of sympathy to the families of the four Air Corp personnel. Bertie Ahern said that he is deeply shocked by the tragedy. In a statement, Mr Ahern said that the untimely death of the four men was all the more poignant given that they themselves had helped to save the lives of people on a vessel in distress a short time before the crash.  The Dáil stood for a minutes' silence when it met this morning in memory of the four Air Corps pilots. Speaking on behalf of the Government, the Minister for Public Enterprise, Mary O'Rourke said that the tragedy was a timely reminder of the risks that members of the Defence Forces take in carrying out their duties. The Fine Gael leader, John Bruton, said that, by not taking unnecessary risks at sea, all citizens could play their part in ensuring that such tragic accident did not happen again. The Labour leader, Ruairí Quinn, said that a tragedy such as this affects us all and reminds us of the dangers which face those who do such important work on our behalf. 

It has emerged that two of those who died piloted a helicopter that brought the Taoiseach to the Stormont talks earlier this week. An investigation into the cause of the crash is under way. The scene of the accident has been sealed off by Gardaí, and air accident investigators from the Department of Defence and the Army are studying the remains of the wreckage.

The Galway Millennium Air Show, which was to have taken place on Sunday, has been cancelled as a mark of respect to the four Air Corps crewmen. Air Corps air/sea rescue teams and the RAF's Red Arrows were to have performed at the show. The show organisers said that the Air Corps had been an integral part of the event since 1993 and that they wanted to extend their deepest sympathy to the families of the four crewmen.

Taken from RTE News July 2nd 1999

Some Photos of the Crew


Lebanon Car Crash Kills 4

They call it Lebanon's Black Road. Since the new coastal highway was opened two years ago, scarcely a day has passed without a fatal road accident, writes Lara Marlowe in Jiyeh. Yesterday four Irish peacekeepers joined the toll - the greatest loss of Irish lives in a single incident since the Irish Battalion of UNIFIL was created in 1978

FULL TEXT at the Irish Times.

Photographs of the 4 Soldiers



Mortar Attack On Clare Soldiers May Have Been Planned Mortar Attack On Clare Soldiers May Have Been Planned
by Dan Danaher Clare Champion

Concern has been expressed that the mortar attack on the United Nations position at the Irish B Company headquarters in South Lebanon which injured two Clare peacekeeping soldiers on Sunday last may have been deliberate. Army chiefs have also criticised the fact that there was no warning before the village of Haddataha was pounded by nine rounds of medium to heavy mortars. The army bosses have also admitted that they were very fortunate that the attack didn't cause at least one fatality. Defence Minister Michael Smith and Army chiefs are awaiting a full report on the incident from the United Nations, following claims from the Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. David Stapleton that the attack was either a deliberate targeting or a
very serious mistake. Former Clare footballer, Corporal Noel Roche (39) from Lisdeen, Kilkee and Private John Flaherty (45) from Glashmore, Doolin were both injured from a heavy 120 mm mortar at around 7 a.m. local time, 5 a.m. Irish time.
The men, who are members of the 85th Irish Battalion based at Haddataha as part of the Irish Batt contingent of UNIFIL in South Lebanon were caught in the exchange of fire over Irish positions, following a night of heightened tension in the region.
Corporal Roche sustained shrapnel injuries on his left thumb and his right thigh while Private John Flaherty suffered head, back and shoulder injuries when he was struck by falling debris. Both of them were airlifted to the UNIFIL hospital in Naqoura where they were described as comfortable. They later spoke to their wives, Kathleen Roche and Teresa Flaherty.
There was an exchange of fire between the Israeli backed South Lebanese Army (SLA) and Lebanese guerillas. The SLA fired nine heavy and medium mortars into the village of Haddataha and one of them hit the Irish soldiers' headquarters,
wounding the two soldiers. Minister Smith said that he was shocked to hear of the injuries to two Irish soldiers but was relieved that there was no loss of life and that the injuries were not life threatening. Two of the army chiefs involved in the running of the battalion are also from Clare. Battalion Commander Lt. Colonel Senan Downes is from Doonbeg and Deputy
Battalion Commanding Officer Con McNamara hails from Ogonnelloe. "It does seem to be a deliberate targeting. We have done a crater analysis. There is no mystery attached to the actual rounds fired. They were fired in a pattern which indicated a specific target pinpointed and the headquarters was in the middle of that target", Commdt. McNamara said. He said that it was either a deliberate targeting or a very serious mistake was made. "What happened is not normal. There is an investigation taking place at the moment and personnel from the force headquarters are at the site of the various detonations and clarification will be forthcoming later as to what was the reason behind the attack on the UN position", Commdt. McNamara explained.He also said that they were very fortunate that there wasn't a higher casualty rate at the headquarters considering the amount of mortars which detonated on or close to their position. He also expressed concern about the alleged targeting of a United Nations post and the destruction of UN property. "It was serious enough to have caused a fatality. We are very fortunate. There was no warning given in this case of any firing which was going to take place.  There was between 30 and 45 personnel located within the vicinity of the base at this stage and we were very fortunate that they were able to get to the bunkers. "If they hadn't got to the bunkers, the situation would have been different", he explained. A detailed report on the incident is being sought by the Army authorities who will then prepare a file for the Department of Foreign Affairs. The contents of the report will determine whether the Government will make a formal protest to the Israeli embassy. It is expected that it could take between ten to fourteen days to complete this report and a decision will then be made whether or not to make it public. After expressing concern about the indiscriminate nature of the shelling, Fine Gael peacekeeping spokesman Billy Timmins called on the Government to lodge a protest and stressed that the perpetrators of the attack should be established. Meanwhile, United Nations peacekeeping troops in South Lebanon lodged an official protest over the attack on Monday last.



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