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Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, T.D.
Attends Transfer of Authority Ceremony in Lebanon
and visits Irish Troops

Today, the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, T.D., attended the Transfer of Authority ceremony to Major General Michael Beary as Head of Mission and Force Commander for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The ceremony was held at UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura where Major General Beary will be based.

In his address at the ceremony the Minister congratulated Major General Beary on his appointment. He said “Major General Beary will bring extensive command and peacekeeping experience to the post and I have no doubt but that he will serve with distinction in this important position. It has been thirty years since an Irish person has held this post and I want to warmly congratulate him and his family on this great occasion.”

The Minister went on to say “I expect that he will be a source of inspiration and guidance for the personnel under his command and that he will maintain and enhance Ireland’s reputation abroad in this new role.”

The Minister also paid tribute to the outgoing Force Commander Major General Portolano for his leadership of the mission over the past two years. He commented “In his role as Force Commander UNIFIL he has served with great distinction and I know he is held in high regard by the Irish troops under his command. On behalf of the Government of Ireland, I congratulate Major General Portolano and thank him for his contribution to the promotion of international peace and stability through his important work in UNIFIL.”

Minister Kehoe later travelled to the headquarters of the Finnish/Irish Battalion (UN Post 2.45) and to UN Post 6.52 on the “Blue Line” where he met with Irish troops. In addressing the troops the Minister said “It is important to acknowledge and pay tribute to the troops on the ground who participate on overseas missions, without their contribution the UN could not undertake these missions and many more lives would be lost.”

Minister Kehoe went on to say that he was “mindful of the great sacrifices which the troops make in carrying out their work and the commitment they show in maintaining peace and security in the region. I am glad to have had this opportunity to express my own personal appreciation along with the Irish Government, for this incredible work by you, the personnel of the Irish Defence Forces, and your Finnish and Estonian counterparts are undertaking here.”

In his concluding remarks the Minister wished the troops “a continued safe and successful mission and a safe return to your families in Ireland.”

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