Monday, May 23, 2005

The first and last Irish soldier in Cyprus

The Cyprus Sunday Mail has an interview with Lieutenant Colonel Paul Quirke who is the last Irish soldier to leave Cyprus, but was also one of the first to arrive. He leaves Cyprus with the belief that 1974 will not be repeated: "“The world has changed and changed for everybody, and I think it’s inevitable since Cyprus joined the EU that conflict will never raise its ugly head here ever again,” he said...“What I did notice was the parade commemorating the martyrs and the 1960 Republic. On all the walls of all the schools in Larnaca, ‘Enosis’ was everywhere. There was also a very strong current on the streets and people were encouraged to show the Greek flag. We saw no other flag except the blue and white everywhere. That was all transparent and I saw parallels with Northern Ireland in 1969.”" The paper recalls that: "Tuesday heralds the end of a 41-year era in Cyprus-Ireland relations when the Irish military contingent IRCON will at sunset, finally lower the flag it first raised in 1964 as part of UNFICYP’s peacekeeping mission."

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