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Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea TD welcomes safe arrival of Irish Defence Forces families to Ireland

July 21st 2006

The Minister for Defence, Willie O’Dea TD has welcomed the safe arrival in Ireland this morning of evacuated families of Irish Defence Forces personnel currently serving in Lebanon.

Four wives and four children of Irish personnel were successfully evacuated and arrived safely into Dublin Airport this morning at 11.05 am following a long journey from Tyre which began more than 24 hours earlier. The families boarded MV Serenade, a ship which had been chartered by the UN, at approximately 08.00 hours (Irish time) yesterday morning (Thursday 20th July) for the 10 hour journey to Larnaca. There they were met by a representative of the Irish Embassy in Cyprus and Garda Siochana personnel and transported to Larnaca airport for a flight to Heathrow, followed by a flight to Dublin.

Earlier this week two wives and one child of Defence Forces personnel in Lebanon were evacuated and arrived safely in Ireland on board the Government Jet.

Minister O’Dea said:

“I would like to sincerely thank all those who worked tirelessly, bravely and quickly this week to evacuate all Irish Defence Forces dependents, totalling 6 wives and 5 children who are now safe in Ireland.  I want to thank Irish military staff, both on the ground in Tyre and in DFHQ in Dublin, Department of Defence and Foreign Affairs officials, Embassy staff in Cairo and Cyprus, the United Nations and also Garda Siochana Personnel currently based in Cyprus, who assisted in the early hours of this morning with immigration requirements in Larnaca and movement to the airport.  The evacuation operation was a difficult and dangerous one and I welcome the successful outcome today.  I know it remains a difficult time for the families as they have left behind loved ones in such worrying circumstances. I will ensure that every support and assistance will be given to them by my Officials in the Department of Defence and by Military staff. My thoughts and prayers remain with the 17 Irish Defence Forces personnel currently serving in the Middle East." - Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea TD.


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