A rapid reaction force of 450 Irish soldiers landed in Liberia as part of the U.N.’s 15,000-strong military intervention in the war-torn West African country. The troops will take part in a peace enforcement mission that is expected to last between three and four years. It is the Irish Army’s first U.N. engagement since the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon came to a close last year.
“The risk in this mission should not be underestimated. The situation on the ground is highly volatile,” warned Minister for Defence Michael Smith, assuring that the safety of troops will be enhanced by the deployment of armored personnel careers (APCs) and a range of protective equipment.
Prior to the troops’ departure from Dublin, the overseas posting had already cost the life of an Irish soldier. Sergeant Derek Mooney, 33, was killed in a road accident outside the Liberian capital, Monrovia, and his body was brought home to a funeral service with full military honors. Sgt. Mooney was part of the advance party sent out to set up the operations base for the Irish troops. He was part of the elite Ranger wing based at the Curragh camp in Co. Kildare. ♦