Over 100 additional Irish soldiers to join Unifil in Lebanon

The additional personnel will be deployed within two current Defence Force companies

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) peacekeepers mark the 40th anniversary in March of its peacekeeping presence in southern Lebanon, in southern Lebanon. Photograph: Ali Hashisho/Reuters

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) peacekeepers mark the 40th anniversary in March of its peacekeeping presence in southern Lebanon, in southern Lebanon. Photograph: Ali Hashisho/Reuters

 

More than 100 additional Irish soldiers are to join the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil ) from November for a 12-month period, the Minister with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe, told the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Mr Kehoe told Ministers that the 106 additional personnel would replace the Finnish soldiers who are withdrawing from the Irish/Finnish Battalion at the end of the year.

At present there are more than 330 Defence Forces personnel serving Finnish-Irish battalion, and small number elsewhere in Unifil operations.

According to a memo supplied to Government on Tuesday, the additional personnel will be deployed within two current Defence Force companies deployed in Unifil and will consist primarily of privates and NCOs and a small number of officers embedded within the existing two companies.

“Military authorities have advised that the numbers involved will not have any significant impact on the ability of the Defence Forces to conduct essential operations at home,” the memo states.

Irish troops have served with the United Nations mission in southern Lebanon since it was established 40 years ago following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and 47 Irish troops have lost their lives on the mission.