THE 50th anniversary of the deployment of Irish troops to the Congo is bound to focus the spotlight on Ireland’s diminishing role as a peacekeeping force today. For the first time in half a century, this country is not fulfilling an international peace keeping role.
That makes it all the more fitting that a commemorative ceremony should be held for those who went to the Congo, beginning what has aptly been described as an “epic journey of peacekeeping”.
From time to time, however, the need for a small, neutral country like Ireland to have its own standing army has been challenged. Arguably, this vexed question may now take on greater import in these straitened times.
Yet, there is no denying that the defence forces have served the nation well in difficult times.
In international trouble spots, from the Congo to Lebanon, not only have Irish military personnel reflected a positive image of the Republic, they have also bravely given their lives in serving the United Nations.
In times when there is not much to be proud of, we can justly be proud of them.
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