Micheál Martin to push for progress on Pte Seán Rooney murder investigation in meeting with Lebanese ministers

Tánaiste also set to travel to southern Lebanon to greet Defence Forces troops serving with Unifil mission

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin is set to press the Lebanese government to make progress on bringing to justice the killers of Pte Seán Rooney during his weekend trip to Lebanon. Mr Martin will on Sunday hold talks in Beirut with Lebanese minister for defence Maurice Sleem and minister for foreign affairs Abdallah BouHabib.

As part of the weekend trip to Lebanon, Mr Martin, who is also Minister for Defence, will meet with members of the Defence Forces serving on the United Nations Interim Force Lebanon (Unifil) peacekeeping force in the south of the country.

The Irish personnel have faced a heightened security environment since last October when the war between Hamas and Israel broke out. The conflict in Gaza, some 200km away to the south, has seen Israel and Iran-backed Hizbullah, an ally of Hamas, trading fire daily along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

“A central focus of my visit will be meeting with Lebanese ministers to communicate the absolute determination of the Irish Government to ensure those responsible for Pte Rooney’s death are brought to justice,” Mr Martin said ahead of his meetings on Sunday.


Pte Seán Rooney (24), from Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal, was killed in an attack on a convoy of Irish peacekeepers in the Lebanese town of Al-Aqbiya in December 2022.

Muhammad Ayyad, the only one of five suspects arrested in the wake of the attack, was charged with a number of offences. His trial was delayed last December when his legal representatives said he was too ill to attend and the proceedings were rescheduled until next month.

Mr Martin has been accompanied to Lebanon by secretary general of the Department of Defence Jacqui McCrum, and the chief of staff of the Defence Forces, Lt Gen Seán Clancy.

The Tánaiste will travel to Camp Shamrock to meet the members of the 124th Infantry Battalion in Unifil. The Defence Forces personnel there represent Ireland’s largest overseas deployment. The Government recently approved deployment of an additional platoon of 33 Irish troops, including members of the Army Ranger Wing, to serve with the Irish battalion in Lebanon.

“I am very much looking forward to meeting our peacekeepers who serve with such distinction in Unifil, and in a very challenging environment amid escalating tensions due to the war in Gaza,” Mr Martin said.

“We recently reaffirmed our continuing support to Unifil and the important role it plays in de-escalation in the south of Lebanon, through an increased force protection element to the battalion.

“The dedication of Defence Force personnel and their families is a vital part of Ireland’s commitment to global peace and security. Nowhere is this engagement more evident than in south Lebanon.”

Unifil was established by the Security Council in 1978 after Israel invaded Lebanon. Its scope and size were expanded after a 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers. The force is deployed in southern Lebanon with the primary role of helping maintain international peace and security.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times