IUNVA  |  Honouring Caring Remembering

The History of the IUNVA

PAST CHAIRMEN

    Michael Pierce                 From  October 1990     To

History

By 1990 more than 32.000 Irish Troops had served with United Nations Peacekeeping Missions throughout the world. Sadly, many soldiers of all ranks carrying out their peacekeeping duties in various theatres of operation paid the ultimate price. Others paid a price in the form of wounds and injuries.

A need had been long felt for an organisation to represent those who had volunteered to serve overseas and who had made a significant and valuable contribution to world peace. Following informal discussions between interested persons in late 1989 the idea of an Irish United Nations Veterans' Association was born. The Association quickly became a reality when, at its first formal meeting in Dublin on 10 th February 1990, an interim committee was formed.

At the first annual general meeting on 6 th October, 1990, at the Eastern Health Board Social Club, Grangegorman, the constitution of IUNVA was ratified and the first National Executive Committee was elected as follows:

National Honorary President: Maj Gen V. Savino (Retd)
Chairperson: Coy Sgt Michael Pierce (5 Inf Bn)
Deputy Chairman: Sgt Maj Sean Phillips (5 Inf Bn)
Secretary: Sgt David Alford (5 Inf Bn)
Treasurer: Paudge McCabe
Quartermaster: Joe Desmond

The Constitution stated, inter alia, that the Association would be non political, non sectarian, and non denominational. The Minister for Defence gave formal approval for the formation of the Association. Membership was to be offered to any Irish citizen who had satisfactorily completed a tour of duty with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force or other organisations, whether he or she was serving or retired. Hence, members of An Garda Síochána and civilian personnel who fulfilled the foregoing criteria were welcome to join IUNVA. Over three hundred of the earliest members were serving personnel in the Defence Forces.

Initially the Association was organised as a National Executive Headquarters and very soon a number of “Posts” began to spring up around the country. No. 1 Post in Dublin was the first to be established and plans for posts to be established countrywide soon followed. All the time contact was being made with veterans in other parts of the country with a view to establishing further posts. Since the first posts was formed back in 1989, thirty two posts have been established. However, while some post’s functioning flourished, others subsided as key people moved on.

From the beginning the Association was financed by membership fees, voluntary contributions and fundraising events organised by the members. IUNVA has been generously supported by some Ministers for Defence since its establishment.

Form the outset, the Association has had full support from the Chief of Staff and members of the Defence Forces. Qualified serving members are continually encouraged to join the Association and thereby ensuring a constant injection of younger members.

IUNVA has expanded and developed rapidly over the past years. The crest, the uniform and post flags were all designed by members of the Association. Great pride is taken in the wearing of the uniform on all ceremonial occasions. Links with United Nations Veterans Associations in other countries were established and exchange visits are regularly organised. A close and comradely relationship between ONET, The Naval Association, The Royal British Legion and other Veteran Associations has been developed.

The founder members can be justifiably proud of their vision, initiative, leadership, and hard work. Twenty eight years later IUNVA is a highly respected national organisation recognised for its loyalty, efficiency, and spirit of comradeship. In Posts throughout the land members continue to honour their fallen comrades, their deceased colleagues and stand shoulder to shoulder with one another. Memorials have been erected at locations countrywide in honour of our fallen comrades. Long may they continue these noble traditions.

Niemba House, the first Headquartes of IUNVA.

In the early days all meetings were held in a room in the Leisure Complex in St. Brendan’s Hospital until a suitable premises was rented in Stoneybatter, Dublin, the first HQ of IUNVA. It was named Niemba House to commemorate the Ambush of an Irish Patrol in the Congo on 8th November 1960.

The following is an extract from the 2 nd Defence Forces Handbook (undated but probably printed in Oct/Nov 1982):

"Between July 1960 and May 1964 when Irish involvement in OUNC (Congo) ceased, a total of eight Battalions, 32nd to 39th, two infantry groups and two armoured car units as well as many personnel on UN Headquarters staff, served on six month tours of duty. A total of 6,197 all ranks served in the Congo, twenty six of whom lost their lives (seventeen in action), fifty seven were wounded or injured."

Niemba House was officially opened by the Minister for Defence, the late Brian Lenihan, T.D. on 16th December 1990.

Arbour House and The Memorial Garden.

Arbour House was originally the Garrison school principal’s house during the British occupation. It later became the caretaker’s house for the person responsible for looking after the graveyard in Arbour Hill. When the Headquarters of IUNVA was in Stoneybatter, it became quite a burden to keep paying the rent each week as funds were scarce in the early days. Some members had to put their hands in their pockets to help pay the expenses. Mr.Joe Clohssey (RIP), a member of Post 1 who worked as an usher in Government Buildings, used all his powers of persuasion in getting Arbour House (on lease) from then Minister of State, Mr. Noel Treacy, T.D. and the OPW.

The Association was very pleased to get the keys, even though they knew a serious challenge lay ahead as the building was in a dilapidated state. Having been unoccupied for many years it required serious work to make it habitable. The members relished the challenge and were fortunate in having within their ranks members with the various skills required to get the house in shape. After several months of blood, sweat and tears the transformation of the house, which included the building of a new kitchen, was completed. It was a remarkable achievement and one in which all who were involved could feel justifiably proud.

Next on the list was the garden in front of the house which was the property of Dublin Corporation. This was once used by residents living in the area as vegetable plots but, because it hadn’t been looked after for several years, it had become very overgrown with trees, shrubs and weeds. Contact was made with Mr. Gerry Barry, Superintendent Parks Department, Dublin Corporation, informing him of our plans to open a Memorial Garden and that the garden in front of Arbour House, was the ideal location. The request was granted and the site was handed over. However, not only did they hand over the garden, they also agreed to landscape it. Roadstone generously came on board and laid the pathways around the garden. The cost of the Memorial Stone was paid through funds raised by the members. The Memorial Garden was officially opened by President Mary McAleese on the 8th November, 1998. IUNVA now had a new HQ with a Memorial Garden located in one of the most historic areas of Dublin City – Arbour Hill.

In 2006 over € 20,000 was spent in bringing the house up to Health and Safety standards.

Welfare officers are now set up at all posts to ensure that members, who wish, may get access to advice, assistance,  or welfare matters.

Offices have been set up at the following locations by Posts, Arbour House Dublin, Curragh ( has accommodation),  Portlaoise, Clonmel,  Mullingar,  Cavan,  Fermoy. Most are open on a daily basis and Veterans, P.D.F., R.D.F and members of the public may drop in for a chat and for information. All are manned by unpaid volunteers.

Monuments have been erected to the memory of our fallen comrades in the following locations. National monument at Arbour house Dublin,  Enniscorthy,  Cork,  Limerick,  Athlone,  Tipperary town (memorial arch),  Letterkenny,  Fermoy,  Mullingar, Portlaoise,  Carlow,  Galway.  Wreath laying ceremonies are held at these locations on an Annual basis.

Graves for veterans who have served overseas and have nobody to lay them to rest are located at Mulhuddart,  Athlone (Monument), Mullingar (Monument) and Letterkenny.

IUNVA attend funerals of IUNVA members, U.N.Veterans who served overseas who are not members of IUNVA, veterans or members of the P.D.F who may not have served overseas and family members of all of the above. Full honors are given at funerals of IUNVA members on request from the family.

IUNVA members take part in many parades and ceremonials around the country and outside the country each year funded by members themselves.

Each post organizes social events for its members and families.

Thousands of visitors visit our H.Q. in Arbour house each year and are given a guided tour of the area and our museum by members of Post 1 based there.

Members give lectures at various locations (schools Military Barracks,  Community centers etc) around the country explaining the role that veterans have played in peacekeeping operations with the United Nations. As we have serving members of the Defence Forces and Gardai in IUNVA present day operations are also covered.

 

How are we funded

By membership fee’s

By subscription from pension or payroll.

Flag day collections

Donations

How can you help

 If eligible apply to join a post of IUNVA.  Remember you are a U.N. Veteran after successfully completing your first overseas mission. If you have not served overseas, or you have served but do do not wish to join IUNVA you can make application to donate €2 per month, deducted from your pension if retired, or from payroll is serving.  (Forms available from all posts see contact details of IUNVA). 

 

 

 

 

Contact IUNVA

Arbour House 
Mount Temple Road
Dublin 7 

T: +353(0)1-6791262
E: iunvahq@eircom.net

 

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