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Minister with Responsibility for Defence
Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D.,
Welcomes Home Irish Troops returning from Lebanon



Today, the Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., together with Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) Major General Kevin Cotter, welcomed home the 109th Infantry Battalion from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The troops returned home following a six month deployment to Lebanon, under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Howard.

Last November Minister Kehoe reviewed these troops prior to their departure, and visited Lebanon in March to be briefed on the situation and the challenges in the mission area so it was fitting that he was at Dublin Airport this morning to welcome them home. The returning personnel were also warmly welcomed by their families and friends. The troops are drawn primarily from the 28 Infantry Battalion which is based in Finner Camp, Co Donegal.

The Minister expressed his appreciation and that of the Government for the valuable work undertaken by the 109th Infantry Battalion while serving with UNIFIL.

The Minister commented “The Irish Government remains strongly committed to the maintenance of peace and security in Lebanon through our continued participation in UNIFIL. We entered a new phase in our participation in the UNIFIL mission when Ireland assumed the lead nation role in the joint Irish/Finnish Battalion in November 2016. Working as part of a joint contingent provides synergies and improves our level of interoperability with like-minded States.

The Minister went on to acknowledge “that Ireland could not make such a substantial contribution to international peace support operations without the ongoing commitment of Defence Forces personnel to serve overseas in often difficult and dangerous circumstances. I commend each and every one of you on your decision to do so.”

The Minister concluded by saying “I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all of your families and friends and to thank them for their support, which enables you to serve abroad and thereby help to protect and save the lives of countless numbers of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.”

ENDS




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