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Cyprus honors Irishman Gerry O’ Sullivan
2006-03-21 13:59:43

Nicosia, Mar 21 (CNA) -- Cypriot Foreign Minister, George Iacovou, awarded today in Dublin, on behalf of President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, Irish Leutenant General, Gerry O’ Sullivan, with the Grand Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Cyprus.

"Today, the Republic of Cyprus honors an Irishman who served in Cyprus with great distinction and who is held in the highest esteem by the people of Cyprus. In honoring Gerry O’Sullivan, the Republic of Cyprus honors and pays tribute to all those Irish men and women who have worn the blue beret on the island since 1964”, the Cypriot Minister stressed during the awarding ceremony.

Referring to Gerry O’Sullivan, he said that in August 1974, he was the newly arrived Chief Economics Officer of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and “from day one he was plunged into having to cope with the grave humanitarian situation on the ground following the Turkish invasion”.

“The respect and admiration that I have for Gerry, having seen him in action first hand, is mirrored in the many real human stories that Cypriots, who came in direct contact with him or who were helped directly by him or his actions, would recount if they were here today”, Iacovou noted.

The Minister referred to Ireland’s solidarity with the people of Cyprus, adding that “in bestowing this decoration on Gerry O’Sullivan, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, recognizes, through him, the great service, contribution and support Ireland has offered to Cyprus, its people and the efforts to find a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem”.

He pointed out that Ireland’s participation in UNFICYP, through an infantry group from 1964 to 1973 and subsequently with officers and NGO’s to the staff of UNFICYP amounting to nearly 10,000 personnel, including two Force Commanders, “is a shining example of Ireland’s sincere interest and solidarity – a solidarity that the people of Cyprus are indebted to and are deeply appreciative of”.

“All I can do is to say thank you Gerry from the bottom of my heart on behalf of the thousands of refugees and enclaved persons whose lives you touched in difficult circumstances”, Iacovou concluded.

Today, Ireland continues to contribute to the UN presence in Cyprus through Garda participation in UNCIVPOL.

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