15. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Defence Forces involvement in peacekeeping missions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20290/18 asked on 10 May 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): This year marks significant anniversaries in relation to Ireland’s United Nations peacekeeping role. It will be the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s first participation in a United Nations peacekeeping mission and it is the 40th anniversary of our first deployment to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.

Commemorative events are being planned to mark this year’s important milestones in the history of Ireland’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations by the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána. Planning for these events is in the early stages of development. My Department is engaging with the Defence Forces, the Department of Justice and Equality, the Garda Síochána, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of An Taoiseach in this regard. Full details of proposed events will be announced once the programme has been finalised. That said, I can confirm that there will a State ceremony in Dublin Castle on Sunday 24th June 2018 to mark the occasion.

This event will be about celebrating and marking Ireland’s service and commitment to the UN since 1958. It will also be an occasion to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice of serving their country while on United Nations service. It is important that we remember those who died and their families as this time. 86 Defence Force personnel and 1 member of An Garda Síochána have lost their lives in the service of peace overseas.

Ireland has always been a strong supporter of the United Nations and participation in overseas peacekeeping missions is a key element of Ireland’s foreign policy. Ireland’s participation in United Nations missions is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to the pursuit of international peace and security.