Today, the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., reviewed the members of the 59th Infantry Group who will leave shortly for service with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights.
Speaking during the Review, Minister Kehoe said, “Ireland is a country for whom peacekeeping is part of our DNA. Irish troops have participated continuously in peace support operations since 1958. Today, Irish troops are deployed in UN, EU and NATO led missions in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. We currently have over 670 members of the Permanent Defence Forces serving in overseas missions.”
Soldiers from 17 counties around Ireland are represented among the 130 strong contingent here today. Almost a third of the group are about to deploy on their first tour of duty overseas.
Addressing the 59th Infantry Group, the Minister said “The role of the Defence Forces, on overseas operations, is one of service to those vulnerable communities living where they are deployed. A role of service to the men and women and children who are devastated by conflict in their lands. It is this role and responsibility of service to the community, which is the primary calling of those who serve in our Defence Forces and which we honour here today".
The Minister went on to say “Participation in peace support missions comes at a personal cost for individuals who must be away from families and friends for extended periods of time in unfamiliar and difficult environs. Without your commitment and dedication Ireland’s strong tradition of service overseas, under the auspices of the United Nations, would not be possible.”
Note to Editor:
At the request of the United Nations, following Government and Dáil Éireann approval, a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force was deployed as the Force Mobile Reserve to UNDOF on the Golan Heights in Syria since 2013.
Following significant events in August 2014 in the area of separation, the UNDOF mission relocated temporarily from a number of positions. Pending the full return of UNDOF to the area of separation, the mission has continued to maintain a credible presence in the Golan in line with its mandate.
The initial phase of an incremental return of the mission to Camp Faouar on the Syrian of the area of separation was completed in September 2016. Further deployment took place during 2017 and in to 2018 under Phase II of the UN's plan for redeployment to Camp Faouar. This involved the deployment of a Nepalese Mechanised Infantry Company and elements of the Force headquarters staff including 8 Irish Defence Forces staff officers. The relocation of Irish personnel to Camp Faouar was completed on 3 September 2018
The Irish contingent, comprising some 130 personnel, will deploy to the Camp Faouar on the Syrian side of the area of separation and replace personnel of the 58th Infantry Group who will shortly complete their tour of duty.