Tributes paid as battalion stands down

Tributes have been paid to members of the Cork-based 4th Infantry Battalion, which was stood down yesterday.

Lord Mayor John Buttimer hailed the 450-strong battalion for its immense contribution to the city and country over its 80-year history.

“It is a sad day for the city,” said Mr Buttimer. “The important thing now is to ensure there is no further loss of personnel in Collins Barracks.”

The battalion is being stood down as part of a major rationalisation of the army by Defence Minister Alan Shatter, which will result in the loss of 64 army jobs at Collins Barracks.

A reassignment board has been interviewing battalion members to see if some of the soldiers can fill vacancies at the barracks and to identify redeployment opportunities. But most of the soldiers will be transferred to other barracks.

The battalion was among 65 formed when the armed forces of the Irish Republic was organised on Jan 24, 1923.

Originally based in Galway, and under the command of Commandant Sean Haughey, the father of former taoiseach Charles Haughey, when it was based in Mayo, the battalion moved to Collins Barracks in 1930.

During the Second World War, the battalion was tasked with defending an area from Cork Harbour to the mouth of the Shannon, and it was relocated to Fermoy.

The battalion later returned to Collins Barracks and in Jul 1960, its members were part of the 32nd Irish Battalion, the first unit of the Irish army to participate in a UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo.

Its members have also served with distinction in UN missions in Cyprus, the Sinai, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq the Western Sahara, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Liberia, the former Yugoslavia, East Timor, and Kosovo.

Four members of the battalions were killed on UN duty, while six others have died during training. Five members have been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

The battalion played a key role during the emergency response to the devastating flood which swamped Cork city centre in 2009, acting as an aid to the civil power.

The battalion was also involved in the security operation for state visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, and provided the guard of honour for the Queen on her departure from Cork Airport.

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