Death of former Irish UNIFIL commander, Lt Gen William Callaghan

‘Steadfast commitment’ to peace praised by President Michael D Higgins


The death has occurred of Lieutenant General William “Bill” Callaghan, a former force commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.

The 93-year-old from Cork held the role from February 1981 to May 1986. He was then appointed head of the UN Truce Supervision Organisation, and was the only person ever to hold both positions.

The Lt Gen joined the Defence Forces as a cadet in 1939 aged 17. Married with seven children, he spent six years in UN peacekeeping operations in Israel, the Congo and Cyprus, before taking up his position in Lebanon.

He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal from the Irish Defence Forces for his outstanding contribution. And he received the French Legion d’Honneur and the Lebanese National Order of the Cedar.

Irish cadets in training also compete for an award named in his honour; the “Lt Gen William Callaghan Sword” is awarded to the cadet who displays the best tactical ability.

President Michael D Higgins expressed his sympathy to the Callaghan family.

He also expressed gratitude for Lt Gen Callaghan’s service to Ireland and to the international community.

He said the officer’s role as commander of the UN forces in the Middle East was a most distinguished one.

“His steadfast commitment to advancing peace and prosperity in the Middle East and his leadership throughout his career was recognised by all those working for international peace,” the President said.

“His unwavering support for international law and multilateral cooperation drew the respect of his peers all over the world. He has left not only a great legacy for the armed forces, but for all those who work for international peace.”