Today, the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., reviewed the members of the 109th Infantry Battalion who will travel shortly for service with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Speaking during the Review, Minister Kehoe said “UNIFIL represents Ireland’s largest overseas deployment, with some 220 personnel currently serving in Lebanon as part of a Finnish/Irish Battalion. With the deployment of the 109th Infantry Battalion, Ireland will take over command from Finland of the joint Finnish/Ireland Battalion. This deployment has an additional Company of approximately 150 personnel and will bring Ireland’s contribution to UNIFIL to some 370 personnel.”
Addressing the troops directly, Minister Kehoe said “I commend, and thank each and every one of you on your decision to take on this mission. It is important to acknowledge that Ireland could not make such a substantial contribution to international peace support operations without the ongoing commitment of Defence Forces personnel to serve overseas in often difficult and dangerous circumstances. By your participation in this mission you have an opportunity to make a tangible difference to the lives of many disadvantaged and vulnerable people.”
During the ceremony Minister Kehoe extended his sympathies, and that of the Government, to the family and friends of Corporal Gavin Carey who tragically lost his life in a drowning incident in August while on pre-deployment training in Finner Camp in preparation for this mission.