Minister Shatter Visits UN Missions in Middle East and Congratulates Troops on Receipt of their UN Medals
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, TD, today congratulated members of the Irish Defence Forces and thanked them for their contribution to peace and security in South Lebanon. The Minister was speaking following the presentation of UN Medals to members of the joint Irish/Finnish Battalion, currently serving with UNIFIL, the UN mission in Lebanon. The UN Medal is presented to all troops who complete a tour of duty on a UN mission in recognition of their service to the cause of international peace and security. Sixty one personnel of the Irish contingent were receiving their first UN medal. The visit to the Irish Troops is part of a comprehensive St. Patricks Day programme in the Middle East being undertaken by the Minister. Alongside his visit to the Irish Troops in south Lebanon, the Minister will also visit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah and the Golan Heights, where members of the Defence Forces serving with the UN Truce Supervision Organisation are currently based. . The Minister is being accompanied on his visit by the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lt Gen, Sean McCann and Assistant Secretary, Mr. Ciaran Murphy from the Department.
Addressing the Irish troops following the Medal Parade, the Minister said “I am glad to have had this opportunity to express my own personal appreciation and that of the Government for the incredible work you are doing here”. He also told the troops that “Your work and your actions here reflect very positively on Ireland. I say this, not to put any greater pressure on you, but to let you know how deeply we value what you do and how enormously proud we are of you.” The Minister also received briefings on the current situation in the region and met with the Force Commander, General Paolo Serra of Italy during the day. Before the medal ceremony, the Minister laid a wreath at the Memorial in Tibnin to the forty seven members of the Defence Forces who died in Lebanon in the cause of peace.
Over the course of his visit to the Middle East, the Minister will meet with Government Ministers including , the Lebanese Minister for Defence, Mr. Fayez Ghosn, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister for Justice Ali Muhana, Israel’s former Foreign Minister and Minister for Justice designate, Ms. Tzippi Livni and Israel’s outgoing Justice Minister Mr. Yakov Neeman. He will also meet with other local and national political leaders, and representatives of the business, diplomatic and international communities from across the region. He will be discussing the current security and political situation with them, hearing their perspectives on the challenges being faced and how their efforts can be supported by Ireland and the international community. The Minister will also be promoting research and innovation, bilateral trade links and tourism during his visit.
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