Secretary General Opens Irish Peacekeeping Museum
Photos by John O’Byrne
Ireland has a proud history of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping since its first deployment of observers in 1958. Since that time members of the Irish Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána have worn the blue beret on missions throughout the world helping to bring peace and stability to conflict stricken regions. Today Ireland holds a seat on the UN Security Council and this month its presidency. Providing advocacy and support for peacekeepers and assisting in the transition from military to civilian life is The Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA). With its Headquarters at Arbour Hill, Dublin, the charity has a network of branches and support centres throughout the country. Open to those who have served on UN missions, its members are proud of their peacekeeping history and regularly give tours and talks to schools. Over time donations of kit and memorabilia were made. Very soon the need for a museum was realised and the members began the process of converting the old school house into a museum.
Today members of the Oireachtas, Defence Forces general staff, An Garda Síochána and UN veterans gathered to open a new museum dedicated to Irish peacekeeping. The Secretary General at the Department of Defence, Jacqui McCrum, and designate Chief of Staff, Major General Seán Clancy formally opened the museum.
The Secretary General congratulated IUNVA on their hard work on the museum and praised the organisation for their work in supporting veterans:
“I am proud of the history of the Defence Forces participation in UN peacekeeping which informs Ireland’s worth on this issue. Both serving and retired members of our Defence Forces have played a significant role in serving the State at home and overseas. All members of IUNVA whether they are serving or retired have successfully completed a tour of duty with the UN force or organisation, Our success in a obtaining seat on the UN Security Council is due in no small measure to the service given by you IUNVA members.”Secretary General at the Department of Defence, Jacqui McCrum
The museum tells the story of Ireland’s contribution to world peace and the experience of soldiers and police. Artifacts from the Congo, photographs from Cyprus, uniforms from an array of missions are only the start of the IUNVA museum. Complementing the museum is a beautifully restored Royal Ordnance QF 25pdr and a replica of a checkpoint as used on service in Lebanon. The museum is a credit to the members of IUNVA. Guests were treated to informative talks on Irish UN service and museum exhibitions by Mick Dillion, Richard Armstrong, Fran O’Shea, and museum curator Ronnie Daly. The historical collections and stories are too vast to tell today and we will be brining you an in-depth feature in the coming weeks.