People attend a ceremony held outside Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland, June 24, 2018. A ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of Ireland's involvement in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions was held here on Sunday. (Xinhua/Zhang Qi)
DUBLIN, June 24 (Xinhua) -- A ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of Ireland's involvement in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions was held here on Sunday.
Irish President Michael Higgins and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar attended the ceremony which was held at Dublin Castle in downtown Dublin.
A video message by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which praised Ireland's contributions to the UN peacekeeping course, was played at the event.
A list of names of 87 Irish Defence Forces personnel and one Irish policeman who sacrificed their lives for the UN peacekeeping missions over the last 60 years was read out at the ceremony.
Higgins laid a wreath for those who were martyred in the UN peacekeeping missions. A minute's silence was also observed at the event.
"Since 1958, members of the Defence Forces have stood guard or patrolled a zone of separation in the world's most volatile places. This is a unique record and one of which the Defence Forces and the Irish people can be very proud," Higgins said in his speech delivered at the event.
Varadkar said in a speech published on the website of the Defence Forces that the Irish government is "strongly committed to contributing to international peace and security. Thousands of Irish men and women have served in the blue helmets over six decades, and that's one of the reasons Ireland is making bid for a seat on the UN Security Council."
Ireland's involvement in the UN peacekeeping missions started in June 1958. Since then, Ireland has contributed almost 70,000 individual tours of duty to the UN peacekeeping missions, which is "a remarkable achievement for a very small nation" like Ireland, said Mark Mellett, Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces of Ireland.
According to the Defence Forces of Ireland, currently there are 645 members of the Irish Defence Forces deployed in 13 different peacekeeping missions abroad.