Ireland's Ambassador to the United Nations Fergal Mythen received the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal on behalf of Private Seán Rooney's family at a ceremony at the UN General Assembly Hall in New York City on Thursday morning, May 25.

The Medal, which was awarded to more than 100 personnel this year, serves "as a tribute to the sacrifice of those who have lost their life as a result of service in peacekeeping operations under the operational control and authority of the United Nations."

Thursday's ceremony is one of a number of events planned to mark the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping on May 29. Ireland has contributed personnel to UN peacekeeping missions on a continuous basis since 1958. 

As part of Thursday's ceremonies, UN Secretary-General António Guterres laid a wreath at the UN's Peacekeepers Memorial in New York, commemorating the 4,200 peacekeepers who have died over the past 75 years, including 89 Irish personnel. 

“Our fallen military, police and civilian personnel came from 39 different countries, with diverse backgrounds. But all embodied our duty to peace," Guterres said on Thursday.

“I extend my deepest condolences and gratitude to their families, friends, colleagues, and home countries represented here.

“I pay tribute to their service and sacrifice, which inspire our work every day. And I commit to doing everything we can to support our peacekeepers in their mission, including improving their safety and security and the effectiveness of peacekeeping through the Action for Peacekeeping Plus strategy.”

Private Seán Rooney, a native of Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal, joined Ireland's Defence Forces in March 2019 and his home unit was the 27 Infantry Battalion in Dundalk. He previously served overseas with the 119 Infantry Battalion UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon.)

Óglaigh na hÉireann said that on December 14, 2022, at approximately 11:15 pm Irish time, a serious incident took place in Lebanon involving members of the 121st Infantry Battalion, UNIFIL.

A convoy of two Armoured Utility Vehicles carrying eight personnel traveling to Beirut came under small arms fire. Four personnel were taken to Raee Hospital, near Sidon, as a result of the incident.

24-year-old Rooney was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital while Trooper Shane Kearney, from Co Cork, underwent surgery. The two other soldiers were treated for minor injuries.

Then-Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said Rooney was killed during a "standard administrative run" from UNIFIL's main camp in southern Lebanon to Beirut. 

Before being repatriated to Ireland in December, Rooney was awarded the United Nations UNIFIL Peacekeeping Medal, the War Medal, the Wounded Medal, and the Appreciation Medal Bronze Degree from the Lebanese Armed Forces.