Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, T.D., Reviews Irish Troops heading for service with UNIFIL Letterkenny, Co. Donegal – Friday 3 May 2019
Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., today paid tribute to the members of the 114th Infantry Battalion who will leave in the coming weeks for service with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The Minister was accompanied at the review by Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces , Vice Admiral Mark Mellett.
In his address to the troops the Minister said "I have had the privilege of visiting our troops overseas in Lebanon on several occasions and on each visit, I have seen the fine work that our personnel are doing on the ground, to help bring stability and peace to the region. Irish peacekeepers play an important part in improving the lives of vulnerable citizens on the ground.
The Minister went on to say that he was “impressed by the strong relationship forged between our personnel and the local communities in which they serve. Liaison with the local population and the provision of support and humanitarian assistance is one of the hallmarks of Ireland’s approach to involvement in peace support operations.”
Soldiers from 29 counties around Ireland were represented among the 450 strong battalion deploying to UNIFIL. Personnel from the Armed Forces of Malta will also deploy to UNIFIL for the second time as part of the Irish Battalion.
Minister Kehoe noted that “Also today, we have twenty eight female personnel ready to deploy as part of this Battalion. Irish women peacekeepers have proven that they can perform the same roles, to the same standards and under the same difficult conditions, as their male colleagues.”
The UNIFIL mission represents Ireland's largest overseas deployment. Following Finland's withdrawal from a joint Battalion in November 2018, Ireland increased the number of personnel deployed and assumed the full duties and responsibilities of the Battalion for a twelve month period. Earlier this year it was confirmed that a contingent of the Polish Armed Forces together with a contribution of troops from Hungary will join the Irish UNIFIL contingent in November 2019. The Minister today again welcomed this development commenting "Partnership with other States is an important element of peacekeeping operations."
The Minister thanked the families and friends for the support they provide to those serving overseas and concluded by wishing the 114th Infantry Battalion a safe and successful mission.
Note to Editor
Photos available: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfmagazine/albums/72157708387309764
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 114th Infantry Battalion replaces the 113h Infantry Battalion which deployed to Lebanon in November 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 two observation posts along the Blue Line.
The 114th Infantry Battalion will deploy to UNIFIL under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Kelly.