Shane Kearney, a 22-year-old Irish soldier who was seriously injured while on UN peacekeeping duty in Lebanon, has been released from hospital after being deemed well enough to continue his recovery at home.
"Trooper Shane Kearney is being discharged from Beaumont Hospital [in Dublin] today, 03 February, to continue his recovery at home," the Irish Defence Forces said in a statement on Friday.
"He still requires further medical treatment later in the year but the medical staff are satisfied with his continued and steady progress to allow him to continue his recuperation at home with his family.
"The Defence Forces and the Kearney family ask all media outlets to please continue to respect Shane's privacy during this time."
Kearney, a native of Killeagh, Co Cork, joined the Defence Forces in October 2018 and his home Unit is 1 Cavalry Squadron in Collins Barracks Cork. According to the Irish Times, Kearney departed for Lebanon last November as part of the 121st Battalion on what was his second peacekeeping tour.
The Irish Defence Forces said that on December 14, a serious incident took place in Lebanon involving members of 121st Infantry Battalion, UNIFIL (United Nation Interim Force in Lebanon.)
A convoy of two Armoured Utility Vehicles (AUVs) carrying eight personnel traveling to Beirut came under small arms fire, the Defence Forces said.
One soldier, Seán Rooney, was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, and another, Kearney, underwent surgery and was in a serious condition.
Two other soldiers were treated for minor injuries, while another four personnel from the convoy were not injured.
Kearney was medically evacuated from Beirut Airport to Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel to be treated at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin on December 21.
Óglaigh na hÉireann can confirm that Trooper Shane Kearney will be medically evacuated from Beirut Airport to Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel today via a specially equipped medical aircraft.
He will then be taken by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital to continue receiving treatment.— Óglaigh na hÉireann (@defenceforces) December 21, 2022
On January 10, the Defence Forces said that Kearney was "responding very well to treatment."
Óglaigh na hÉireann can confirm that Trooper Shane Kearney is responding very well to treatment with his condition described as stable, and medical staff satisfied with his progress.
Trooper Kearneys family wish to thank everyone for the support that they continue to receive.— Óglaigh na hÉireann (@defenceforces) January 10, 2023
Ireland's Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin welcomed the news that Kearney, who he visited last week in Beaumont Hospital, was going home.
"It’s good news that he’s going home," Martin said, "he’s been through a very traumatic time."
Martin, who was in Lebanon last week, said the Irish government is "absolutely determined" to secure justice after the December attack.
“When I was in Lebanon, I met with the minister for foreign affairs and the minister for defence and pressed the need for a comprehensive investigation into the murder of Seán Rooney and the attack on our peacekeeping troops in Lebanon, and also met with the Secretary General of the United Nations.
“We expect the UN nations report in mid-February.
“I don’t have any further updates in respect to the investigations that are underway,” Martin said.
Pleased to be at Camp UNP 2-45 in Lebanon again. Warm welcome from our troops. pic.twitter.com/3wmi265EAD— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) January 26, 2023
In January, the Lebanese military charged seven suspects in connection with the attack. Only one of the seven charged, Mohammad Ayyad, was in custody after being handed over by the Shiite group Hezbollah last month, AFP reported at the time.
Ayyad has been charged "with killing the Irish soldier and attempting to kill his three comrades by shooting them with a machine gun", a judicial official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP on Thursday, January 5.
The judge also charged six fugitives "for uttering threats with an illegal weapon, destroying the UNIFIL vehicle and intimidating its passengers," the official added.
The attack was the first fatal attack on UN peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015. Three separate investigations into the attack are currently ongoing.