An air ambulance carrying Trooper Shane Kearney, injured in Lebanon, has landed in Baldonnel

AN IRISH soldier who was seriously injured in Lebanon when a mob attacked his convoy as he was driving home on Christmas holiday is reunited with his family at a Dublin hospital.

Rooper Shane Kearney (23) was flown home from Beirut to Dublin today on a special medical evacuation plane.

Defense Forces confirmed the air ambulance carrying Trooper Shane Kearney had landed safely at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel at 5.40pm.

He is now being taken by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital for further medical treatment.

Beaumont is a specialist center for the treatment of head injuries.

The Defense Forces chartered the special aircraft for the transfer from Beirut Aircraft to Casement Aerodrome after UN doctors confirmed Trooper Kearney was now medically fit for the transfer.

The young Cork soldier was in critical condition for several days but is now serious but stable.

A Defense Forces spokesman said his condition continued to improve.

However, he will require lengthy treatment after suffering blunt force injuries to his head.

His transfer came a week after he sustained serious head injuries when his vehicle was attacked outside the village of al-Aqbiya in southern Lebanon.

His colleague, Private Seán Rooney, died in the attack after being shot in the head.

Private Rooney will be buried with full military honors on Thursday after his remains were flown home from Lebanon on Air Corps planes.

Trooper Kearney’s parents, Paudie and Phil, and his sister Amy are reunited with him at Beaumont Hospital.

His girlfriend Joanne Padden had also made an emotional request for prayers for her injured friend.

Trooper Kearney’s family were “overwhelmed” by messages of support and condolences from across Ireland and around the world.

He had been treated at the special hospital in Hammoud, run by the UN, since the incident in southern Lebanon last week.

The incident in al-Aqbiya in southern Lebanon, just off the coastal road between Tire and Sidon, is currently being investigated separately by the UN, Irish forces and Lebanese authorities.

The Irish convoy was en route from their UNIFIL base to Beirut Airport for a flight home.

Two vehicles carrying Irish peacekeepers heading home on pity leave were separated and one was then surrounded by an angry mob.

Shots were fired at the Irish vehicle – killing Private Rooney after being hit in the head.

His vehicle then overturned.

Trooper Kearney was left with critical blunt trauma injuries to his head.

Three other Irish staff suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Trooper Kearney had since undergone two emergency surgeries.

He hails from Killeagh in East Cork and is based at Collins Barracks in Cork City, which is attached to the Cavalry Squadron.

The Cork community has rallied to support his parents Padraig “Paudie” and Phil and his sister Amy.

Hundreds attended a special vigil at the Church of St John the Baptist in Killleagh last Thursday night with a large turnout from Killleagh GAA and Cork GAA clubs, as well as from the Defense Forces, the Organization of National Ex-Servicemen (ONE) and the Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA).

Paudie Kearney lit a special candle of hope at the vigil for his son.

Killleagh vicar Father Tim Hazelwood said everyone was praying for the recovery of a young man who was loved and admired throughout the East Cork community.

“We are all praying for Shane and his family,” he said.

“When things are difficult, God is with us and that is our prayer for Shane. We also remember the Rooney family and the terrible loss they have suffered.”

Former Cork GAA Chair Tracey Kennedy is a close friend of the Kearney family.

She said the community was deeply shocked by the tragedy in Lebanon – and everyone on the ground wanted to show support and solidarity with the Kearney family.

“Shane is a dear family friend of ours and his parents would appreciate any and all prayers for his recovery,” she said.

Both the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councilor Deirdre Forde, and Cork County Mayor, Councilor Danny Collins expressed their support for the Kearney family.

The tricolor flies at half mast over Cork public buildings as a sign of respect.

Councilor Forde said she is praying for Trooper Kearney’s recovery along with everyone else in Ireland.

“We hope Shane recovers from his injuries as soon as possible and returns home to his family,” she said.

“We were all deeply shocked to hear the terrible news. The thoughts and prayers of the people of Cork are with the Kearney family at this difficult time. I can only imagine how difficult it is for her.”

But she said Killleagh is like any proud Irish community who comes together in challenging times – and will show all the solidarity and support possible to the Kearney family.

Councilor Collins said everyone in Cork wanted to show their support for the Kearney family.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Kearney family,” he said.

“Shane is one of us from Killeagh, County Cork and I wish him a speedy recovery from surgery. We hope and pray that he will be home in the shortest possible time.”

Ger Scully, Chairman of the Killeagh GAA, said the Kearney family is very much appreciated locally and everyone in the community is committed to supporting them in any way they can.

The family have had strong support from their son’s pals at Collins Barracks – many of whom had planned to meet Shane during his holiday season over Christmas.

Killleagh is near the home of Cork East TD James O’Connor and he said everyone at the scene was praying for the soldiers and their families.

Mr. O’Connor played junior hurling with Shane.

“It was a huge shock to everyone in the community,” he said.

“This is a small, close-knit community and everyone here will come together to support the family and all of them.” An air ambulance carrying Trooper Shane Kearney, injured in Lebanon, has landed in Baldonnel

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