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Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea TD secured Cabinet approval today for the continued deployment of Irish troops serving in Liberia for a further 6 months and Bosnia and Herzegovina for a further 12 months.

Ireland will complete its participation with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in May 2007. Today’s Cabinet decision follows Government agreement to a request from the Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, for Ireland to remain in Liberia for an additional 6 months. (Ireland was due to complete its mission in UNMIL in November 2006). 320 Irish personnel are currently serving there. The Irish contingent, which has been deployed to UNMIL since December 2003, operates as the Force Commander’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF).  The role of the Irish personnel is to provide an immediate response unit, deployable in sufficient strength and with the required level of force to provide a swift and decisive military reaction to any crisis situation. It undertakes regular daily patrols within the Monrovia area together with long-range and border patrols showing a UN presence, deterring lawlessness and protecting the local population.

Ireland has participated in EUFOR ­ the EU-led Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina since December 2004.   Ireland had previously been a participant in EUFOR’s predecessor mission, the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, since 1997.

 The Irish contingent with EUFOR currently comprises of 62 personnel. Their role serving within the Task Force (North) is to provide personnel for the headquarters, the Military Police Unit, Verification Teams and a National Support element. Ireland currently acts as the Framework Nation for the Military Police Unit and Verification Teams.

“I am pleased to have received Cabinet approval today for Ireland’s continued deployment in Liberia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for a further 6 months and 12 months respectively. Both missions are extremely important and worthwhile and have proved highly successful on the ground in terms of peacekeeping and progress. Irish troops are highly respected on the international stage and have made hugely significant contributions to the local communities on many levels in both of these missions in Liberia and Bosnia and Herzegovina over many years. Irish troops save lives, maintain peace and give hope to thousands of people through their work on these missions. Today's decision by Cabinet means they will be able to continue this vital work,” stated Minister O’Dea.

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