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Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D.
Reviews Irish Troops heading for service with UNDOF

Collins Barracks, Cork

21 September 2015



Today, the Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., reviewed the members of the 50
th Infantry Group who will leave in the coming weeks for service with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

Speaking during the Review, the Minister said, “Ireland’s substantial contribution to international peace support operations depends on the ongoing commitment of Defence Forces personnel to serve overseas in often difficult and dangerous circumstances. Your commitment, service and loyalty to the traditions of the Defence Forces on overseas service contribute extensively to the high regard in which Ireland is held throughout the world.”

Recalling the significant events in UNDOF during the past year, the Minister noted that the escalation of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic has severely affected the mission’s area of operations. “Most UNDOF personnel are now deployed on the Israeli side of the area of separation rather than in the area of separation itself. However, UNDOF remains an important element in ensuring stability on the Golan Heights. The continued support of troop contributing countries, such as Ireland, to the mission, is vital to allow the mission to continue the implementation of its mandate”, the Minister said.

The Minister went on to say: “Unfortunately, the ongoing conflict in Syria, which is creating such difficulties for your mission in UNDOF, is directly contributing to the crisis in the Mediterranean where your colleagues from the Naval Service are engaged in a major search and rescue operation to save the lives of refugees, many of whom are from Syria”.

In concluding and wishing the troops well on their mission, the Minister also paid tribute to their families: “I am delighted to see so many of your families and friends here today. The support and encouragement of your family and friends is of vital importance to the success of all overseas missions and is deeply valued. I thank them for that support, which enables you to serve abroad and thereby help to protect and save lives of countless numbers of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.”

ENDS

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. The Irish contingent, comprising some 130 personnel, will replace personnel of the 48th Infantry Group who will shortly complete their tour of duty. Eight (8) Defence Forces personnel also serve at the UNDOF Force Headquarters, including Brigadier General Tony Hanlon who was appointed Deputy Force Commander of the mission in September 2014.

The mandate of the UNDOF mission was most recently renewed on 29 June 2015 under UN Security Council Resolution 2229 (2015) for a further period of six months up to and including the 31st December 2015.




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