Defence Forces prohibits drinking of alcohol during Lebanon deployment

Policy change, taken in last 10 days, follows recent alleged assault on military base

Members of the Defence Forces participating in a  training operation in the Curragh, Co Kildare. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Members of the Defence Forces participating in a training operation in the Curragh, Co Kildare. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The Defence Forces has moved to close a small bar on its military base in Lebanon and to prohibit personnel from drinking alcohol for the period of their deployment to the country.

The decision followed a recent alleged assault on the base of the peacekeeping mission in the Middle East, which followed alcohol consumption.

The Defence Forces confirmed the General Staff had “carefully considered” the standards required of “operational units on deployment”.

In response, it said management directed the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) deployment “will not partake of, or consume alcohol for the duration of their deployment in the mission area”.

The Defence Forces main base in Lebanon had a small bar in a mess hall with a number of couches, where personnel who were off-duty could consume alcohol for limited periods.

A Defence Forces spokesman said the decision would bring the UNIFIL mission into line with another Irish deployment in Syria, as part of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), where alcohol is prohibited.

Uniformity

The policy change was about “ensuring uniformity across all our operational units in the Middle East,” the spokesman said.

“The General’s Staff’s decision has been informed by the lessons learned in previous operational deployments that were designated as ‘dry’,” he said. These included previous Defence Forces deployments to Chad and Afghanistan.

It is understood missions where alcohol is prohibited often see significantly fewer disciplinary issues arise. The policy change prohibiting alcohol for those serving in Lebanon was taken in the last 10 days, one source said.

The current Irish peacekeeping troops in south Lebanon are serving as part of a battalion with Polish troops.