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Minister of State, Mr Paul Kehoe, T.D.,
Reviews Irish Troops heading to the Lebanon
Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick

22nd April 2013.

Today, Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe, T.D., reviewed the members of the 108th Infantry Battalion who will leave next month for service with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Speaking during the Review, the Minister said: “Participation in UNIFIL is a continuation of our honourable tradition of supporting the United Nations in the cause of peace and security, a tradition spanning over half a century now. The Defence Forces have participated in UNIFIL since its establishment in 1978. Referring to the good reputation which the Defence Forces have achieved as committed, conscientious, professional and humane peacekeepers, the Minister told the personnel of the 108 Infantry Battalion, “I know that you will work hard to maintain Ireland’s reputation and indeed enhance it”. The Minister went on to say “The men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann have made real and lasting contributions to the lives of the communities they have served around the world in the cause of peace. As members of the 108th Infantry Battalion you will continue to support and encourage the local people in Lebanon with the humanity and professionalism we have come to expect from Óglaigh na hÉireann”.

UNIFIL plays a vital role in stabilising southern Lebanon. Last month marked 35 years of UNIFIL’s peacekeeping presence in the area. The UNIFIL Force Commander recently stated that “the past seven years have been the calmest period southern Lebanon has seen in a long time”.

The members of the 108th Infantry Battalion will be working alongside Finnish Armed Forces as part of a joint Irish/Finnish battalion that has operated in UNIFIL since June 2012. Both Ireland and Finland share a long tradition of active involvement in peace keeping operations.
Note for Editor:

Ireland has a long association with UNIFIL since its establishment in 1978. The main Defence Forces battalion was withdrawn in 2001, following 23 years of service with UNIFIL. Ireland again deployed a contingent to Lebanon in 2006, for a period of 12 months, with a Finnish Engineering company, following on from an escalation of hostilities, when the UNIFIL Force was significantly expanded under a UN mandate. An Irish Battalion returned to the Lebanon in the summer of 2011. The 108th Infantry Battalion replaces the 107th Infantry Battalion who deployed to Lebanon in November 2012.

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