Irish President visits peacekeepers; UNIFIL Commander hails Ireland's sacrifices in south Lebanon

16 Oct 2011

Irish President visits peacekeepers; UNIFIL Commander hails Ireland's sacrifices in south Lebanon

(TIBNIN, Lebanon - President of Ireland visits troops in UNIFIL, 15 October 2011)

The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, visited her country's troops deployed with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon today.

The Irish President was welcomed at Camp Shamrock, the Irish contingent's base in the town of Tibnin, by UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas and the Irish Battalion's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Bolger.

After reviewing an Honour Guard, the President laid a wreath at the Memorial dedicated to the 47 Irish peacekeepers who died in the service of peace in south Lebanon and later visited a position of Irish troops on the Blue Line, the Line of Withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. She also visited the Orphanage in Tibnin.

President McAleese had previously visited Irish troops in Lebanon in 1997 at the beginning of her term in office.

The Force Commander thanked the Irish President for her country's support to UNIFIL. "Contributions to UNIFIL by Ireland and other nations are vital for us to effectively implement our mandate and to maintain peace and security in southern Lebanon," he said.

"Irish troops and their sacrifices in UNIFIL have always been a source of inspiration to those who served in this land. Their dedication to their mission of peace and to the people who hosted them even in the most difficult times is still etched in the memories of the people of the south," Major-General Asarta added.

Ireland was one of the first contributors to UNIFIL, providing troops since its onset in 1978. The troops were withdrawn in 2001 and returned in 2007-2008 before being withdrawn again, although Irish officers continued to serve at UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura through these years. Since July 2011, Ireland has once again deployed a battalion of 453 soldiers with UNIFIL.

UNIFIL currently numbers about 12,000 troops from 36 countries and about 1,000 civilian national and international staff members.


For further information, please contact the UNIFIL Public Information Office:
UNIFIL Chief of Public Information and Spokesperson Neeraj Singh: +961 1 827 681; +961 70918500 (cell);