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Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence, Alan Shatter, T.D.,
Attends a Transfer of Authority Ceremony in UNIFIL Lebanon
26th November 2013

On the second day of his trip to the Middle East, the Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence, Alan Shatter, T.D., travelled to South Lebanon to the UNIFIL UN Post to attend a Transfer of Authority ceremony to mark the handover of Command of the joint Irish/Finnish Battalion to Finland. Finland has assumed command of the new Finnish/Irish Battalion today, 26th of November. The ceremony was also being attended Mr. Kari Kahiluoto Ambassador of Finland in the region, The Secretary General of the Department of Defence, Head of Mission Major General Paolo Serra of Italy and senior members of the Finnish and Irish Defence Forces.


Speaking following the ceremony, the Minister referred to his meetings yesterday with Minister Ghosn the Lebanese Defence Minister and representatives from UNHCR, UNWRA and the European Union External Action Service, at which the significant impact of the tragedy unfolding in Syria for the wider region and for Lebanon in particular was discussed.

Minister Shatter said “The arrival of in excess of 800,000 people crossing the border from Syria into Lebanon, a country of only four million inhabitants before the crisis, has created major challenges for the Lebanese authorities and people, particularly in the areas of security and the provision of health and education services. In tandem with this, we can see increased instability in the region”. He went on to say that “it is in this context that the role of the UNIFIL mission is vital to maintaining peace and security, and providing support to the Lebanese Government and stability in the wider region”

Following on from Finland taking over the lead role of the Finnish/Irish battalion there are 175 Irish troops in South Lebanon as part of the joint contingent. The Minister wished Lt Col Valta every success in his new role as contingent commander and said “I anticipate that Ireland will continue to contribute to UNIFIL for the foreseeable future and will continue to play a key role in UN missions in maintaining peace in areas of potential conflict”. He wished all members of the joint Finnish/Irish Battalion a safe and successful mission during their tour of duty with UNIFIL.

The Minister also thanked the members of the Irish battalion who have completed their tour of duty and are returning home shortly for their contribution to peace keeping with UNIFIL.


END


Please click on the links below for photographic and video links to today’s meetings:





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