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Remarks by the Minister for Defence Mr Willie O’Dea, T.D. at a Ceremony to Mark the UN Day of the Peacekeeper

Noon Thurs May 29th – IUNVA HQ, Arbour Hill.


Today, May 29th, is the day designated by the United Nations as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

It is a day to honour the men and women who have served and who are serving on United Nations mandated peacekeeping operations across the world. There is no greater honour for a soldier than to protect and save life.

Today, across the world, the brotherhood of Peacekeepers gather together at memorial gardens to remember their fallen comrades. Here we remember and pay tribute to the 85 members of Óglaigh na hÉireann who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving abroad with the United Nations over the last 50 years.

We also hope and pray that those who follow in the footsteps of the fallen will ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain.

Today is also a time to remind ourselves of the importance of supporting the United Nations and its peacekeeping operations. These are now increasingly complex and multi-dimensional, going beyond monitoring a ceasefire to actually bringing failed States back to life, often after decades of conflict.

Today’s inheritors of our proud 50-year tradition of peacekeeping are serving in UN mandated missions across the globe, from Chad and Bosnia to Kosovo and Afghanistan.

One of IUNVA’s key Aims and Objectives is: “To promote public understanding of the Irish role in the United Nations operations.”

As a nation with 50 years of peacekeeping experience we have a moral obligation, as a member of both the UN and of the EU, to do everything we can to support peace support and humanitarian operations which is why voting Yes to the Lisbon Reform Treaty is so important. The changes proposed in the Treaty will add a new impetus and provide the institutional framework needed.

Since our first UN mission in June 1955 our soldiers and gardaí have earned a reputation for professionalism and excellence. They have been strong when required and fearless when it mattered. They have shown fairness, humanity and impartiality, bringing peace and security with good humour and a respect for cultures and beliefs.

For over 50 years the United Nations has symbolized Ireland’s best hopes for a world at peace. I believe there is a simple reason for this commitment. The UN stands for the rule of law, for social and political justice and for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

I am honoured to be here with you again today to express the Nation’s pride for all your have done, both individually and collectively for all you have done in the service of the United Nations.

Many, many people today live free from the fear of oppression and torment thanks to your heroic efforts.

We all remain in your debt.



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