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Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, T.D.,
Reviews Irish Troops preparing to head to Golan Heights.

Custume Barracks, Athlone

15 September 2014.

Today, the Minister for Defence, Mr Simon Coveney, T.D., reviewed the members of the 46
th Infantry Group who are planning to leave later this month for service with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Golan Heights.

Addressing the 46th Infantry Group directly, the Minister said:
“I applaud the diligence of the preparation of the 46th Infantry Group for deployment to UNDOF, under Lt. Col Denis Harrington given the uncertainty over the future of the mission”. The Minister commented on the conflict in Syria in the past year and how it has affected the UNDOF area of operations significantly.

The Minister went on to say, “the civil war in Syria has demanded changes to the manner in which UNDOF carries out the mandate it has received from the UN. There has been fundamental realignment of the mission over the weekend reflecting the situation on the ground. The UN Security Council will be briefed on Thursday next on UNDOF and how the mission can respond to the changed circumstances”.

Commenting on the future of the UNDOF mission the Minister said, “I have personally discussed the review of UNDOF with the Under Secretary General in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations”.

He further stated that, “UNDOF has been a successful mission in supporting the efforts of the international community both in the Golan Heights region and also in the in the broader Middle-East region”.

Note to Editor

Following Government and Dáil approval Ireland completed its first deployment of a Force Mobile Reserve to the UNDOF mission on 28 September 2013. Four (4) Defence Forces personnel had been deployed earlier in 2013 to the UNDOF mission headquarters at Camp Faouar in the Golan Heights. The Irish contingent, comprising some 130 personnel, will replace personnel of the 44rd Infantry Group who will shortly complete their tour of duty.

In response to a request from the United Nations in July 2014, Ireland nominated Brigadier General Tony Hanlon for the post of Deputy Force Commander of UNDOF mission. Ireland’s nomination was successful and the United Nations appointed Brigadier General Hanlon to the post with effect from 20 September 2014 for an initial contract period of one year.

The mandate of the UNDOF mission was most recently renewed on 25 June 2014 under UN Security Council Resolution 2163 (2014) for a further period of six months up to and including the 31 December 2014.

UNDOF is assisted by over eighty (80) military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation’s (UNTSO) Observer Group Golan, with seven (7) Irish Officers. An Irish officer, Major General Michael Finn, is Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of UNTSO.

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