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Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D.,
Reviews Irish Troops heading to the Lebanon
Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, 7th November 2013.


Today, the Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., reviewed the members of the 42nd Infantry Group who will leave later this month for service with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Speaking during the Review, the Minister said “Last year saw the establishment of a joint Irish/Finnish Battalion in UNIFIL when a contingent of 170 personnel of the Finnish Armed Forces began serving alongside Irish soldiers in UNIFIL working to support the mission’s mandate. Partnership with other like-minded States has become an increasing element of our peacekeeping operations”

Finland will assume command of the new Finnish/Irish Battalion on the 26th of November. The Minister told the personnel of the 42nd Infantry Group “Although Ireland’s contribution to the Finnish/Irish Battalion will reduce to approximately 180 personnel later this month, this mission continues to represent Ireland’s largest overseas deployment.”

The Minister went on to say “Ireland’s participation in UNIFIL is an illustration of the very positive and practical difference that small countries like Ireland can make in the world's trouble spots by supporting the United Nations.”

The Minister referred to the deployment of personnel in often difficult and dangerous circumstances. Addressing the troops directly he said “appropriate force protection assets and capabilities are being deployed to operate in the current and future environment in Lebanon. However, that is not to underestimate the dangers you may face in your role as peacekeepers as was evidenced by the incident that took place yesterday on the Golan Heights in Syria. The incident involved 39 Irish personnel serving with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) who were patrolling in a UN convoy with other UNDOF personnel when artillery rounds were fired close to their vehicles. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported and the UNDOF vehicles, including MOWAG armoured personnel carriers carrying the Irish troops returned safely to Camp Faouar in the Golan Heights. ”

The Minister went on to say “the safety of all Irish Defence Forces personnel serving on all overseas missions is always a concern to me, my Government colleagues and to the military authorities”. He further stated “I am satisfied that all appropriate security measures are in place to ensure the safety of all Defence Forces personnel serving with UNIFIL and UNDOF”.

ENDS

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 42nd Infantry Group replaces the 108th Infantry Battalion who deployed to Lebanon in May 2013.

Yesterday’s incident in the Golan Heights in Syria involved 39 Irish personnel serving with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) who were patrolling in a UN convoy with other UNDOF personnel when artillery rounds were fired close to their vehicles. There were no injuries reported and the UNDOF vehicles, including MOWAG armoured personnel carriers carrying the Irish troops, returned safely to Camp Faouar in the Golan Heights.




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