Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, T.D., Reviews Irish Troops heading for service with UNIFIL Eyre Square, Galway – Friday 26 October 2018
Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., today paid tribute to the members of the 113th Infantry Battalion who will leave in the coming weeks for service with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The members of the 113th Infantry Battalion were reviewed in Eyre Square, Galway.
In his address to the troops, the Minister said “We currently have over 600 members of the Permanent Defence Force serving in overseas missions in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. This commitment to international peacekeeping is a very practical expression of the values in which we believe as a nation and of our commitment to the United Nations and to multilateralism. ”
The Minister went on to say "I am very aware that you have to operate in often difficult and challenging circumstances while on service overseas. I know that the personnel of the 113th Infantry Battalion under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Keogh, will rise to the challenge before them, in the best traditions of the Irish Defence Forces on overseas service.”
Soldiers from 29 counties around Ireland were represented among the 442 strong battalion deploying to UNIFIL. Two personnel from the Armed Forces of Malta will also deploy to UNIFIL for the first time as part of the Irish Battalion.
Minister Kehoe noted that twenty one female personnel will deploy as part of this Battalion and stated "The promotion of a strong gender perspective is a key element in all our peacekeeping operations. It is a priority of mine that we continue to increase female participation in peacekeeping contingents. A significant female presence within our contingents contributes greatly with resolving conflict and connecting with local populations. It broadens the skills sets available within a peacekeeping mission and importantly provides role models for women, both at home and abroad.”
The Minister thanked the families and friends for the support they provide to those serving overseas. “The support and encouragement of your family and friends is deeply valued by me and by the Government. It is their support which enables you to serve abroad and thereby help to protect and save the lives of countless numbers of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world” he said.
The Minister concluded by wishing the 113th Infantry Battalion a safe and successful mission.
Note to Editor
Ireland has a long association with UNIFIL since its establishment in 1978. The main Defence Forces battalion was withdrawn in 2001, following 23 years of service with UNIFIL. Ireland again deployed a contingent to Lebanon in 2006, for a period of 12 months, with a Finnish Engineering company, following on from an escalation of hostilities, when the UNIFIL Force was significantly expanded under a UN mandate. An Irish Battalion returned to the Lebanon in the summer of 2011.
The 113th Infantry Battalion replaces the 112h Infantry Battalion which deployed to Lebanon in May 2018. In UNIFIL the Irish Battalion will provide robust patrolling support to the Lebanese Armed Forces and protection to the local population from their primary Headquarters location in UN Post 2-45. In addition, Irish personnel will occupy and secure observation posts along the Blue Line.