President of the Republic of Ireland inspects country’s troops in UNIFIL
Today, the President of the Republic of Ireland H.E. Michael Higgins paid a visit to his country’s battalion operating in the framework of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) at its base in al-Tiri, Bint Jbeil district, where he was welcomed by UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano.
Also present to receive the President were UNIFIL’s Irish Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin McCarthy, the Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Samir Moqbel and Lebanese officials.
Major-General Portolano briefed the President about the situation in UNIFIL’s area of operations, the regional situation and issues related to the implementation of UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
A welcoming ceremony was held in the main square of the base, and a guard of honour saluted the president as a band was playing national music. President Higgings inspected an Honour Guard and laid a wreath in tribute to UNIFIL peacekeepers who lost their lives in the service of peace since 1978.
On behalf of the Government and people of Ireland, H.E. Higgins thanked the Irish officers and soldiers for their sacrifices for the service of peace in southern Lebanon, and wished them further progress and success.
UNIFIL Head of Mission said:”Let me take this opportunity to thank the President for his country’s strong, historical and unremitting support to UNIFIL since its inception in 1978. Ireland ‘s contribution, professionalism and commitment has been outstanding paying a high price in terms of human losses while working for peace in UNIFIL.”
Ireland currently has about 195 troops working in UNIFIL as part of the Finnish-Irish Battalion (FINIRISHBATT). UNIFIL comprises over 10,000 military personnel from 38 countries, including the Maritime Task Force, the only naval force in peacekeeping operations - and 1,000 civilian national and international staff.