Ireland donates hospital beds to Lebanon
Up to 100 hospital beds are to be donated by Ireland to war-ravaged towns in southern Lebanon.
The Irish Lebanese Cultural Foundation sourced the beds in the private Aut Even Hospital in Kilkenny and will ship the consignment in coming weeks.
The month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbullah in July and August killed thousands of people and forced countless others to flee their homes.
Foundation spokesman Guy Jones said: "We are delighted that the beds are going to a good cause and the people of southern Lebanon will know that they have come from Ireland. Locals have built up a friendship with hundreds of serving Irish soldiers since the late 1970s.
"Southern Lebanon suffered some of the worst destruction during the conflict so it is a very needy area."
Former UN peacekeeper Mick Guidera helped source the beds, which are awaiting shipment in the Hebron industrial estate in Kilkenny.
Founded in 2001, the Irish Lebanese Cultural Foundation aims to foster arts, sports, and musical ties between Lebanon and Ireland.
The Seanad is to hold a special debate on the current situation in the Middle East next week.
Aid consignments containing food, medical supplies, clothes and toys have already been sent to Lebanon.
The Foundation raised cash to buy the supplies through fundraising events in Kilkenny, Limerick, Thurles and Cobh, Co Cork.
French aid agency La Voiz de L'enfant helped ship the aid with the help of the Irish Red Cross, the Order of Malta, Irish UN Veterans Association and St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny.
La Voiz de L'enfant also delivered aid supplies during Israeli-Hezbollah hostilities in July and August as their boats were escorted by the French navy to the Lebanese coast amid an air, land and sea embargo on Lebanon.
Mr Jones said: "The response from the public has been very generous and we know that the aid will get directly to where it is needed most."
In coming weeks, the Garden of Remembrance in Thurles, which honours fallen UN peacekeepers, will be twinned with the Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut.