RTÉ is to televise a live Christmas Day link-up with Irish peacekeepers serving in Chad and Kosovo, it emerged today.
The ceremony has been planned to pay tribute to the 765 troops serving on overseas duty during the festive season.
The link-up is part of a live RTÉ One broadcast of Christmas Day morning Mass from McKee Barracks in Dublin when personnel serving in Chad and Kosovo will be allowed to take part by reciting prayers.
Personal messages will also be sent to the peacekeepers from President Mary McAleese, who is Commander-in Chief of the Defence Forces, and the Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Dermot Earley.
“Traditionally, Christmas is a time for families to be together but the festive season will be marked as a period of separation for personnel serving in the Army, the Air Corps and the Navy,” said Defence Forces’ Head Chaplain, Monsignor Eoin Thynne.
“It will give families a chance to remember their missing fathers and mothers, sons and daughters on Christmas Day.”
Msgnr Thynne celebrated Mass live on RTÉ from Camp Shamrock in Lebanon in 1993.
“Christmas Day is one of the most significant liturgical celebrations of the year, and as Christmas is about peace, it is fitting that it should be linked to our peacekeepers abroad,” he told official Defence Forces magazine, An Cosantoir.
The Mass at the Garrison Church in McKee Barracks will be celebrated by McKee Barracks chaplain Rev Pat Mernagh and Rev Dan McCarthy of Stephen’s Barracks, Kilkenny.