Prime Minister of The Republic of Ireland visits UNIFIL
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (An Taoiseach) of The Republic of Ireland today visited UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura as well as the main base of UNIFIL’s Irish Contingent in south-west Lebanon.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary welcomed Prime Minister Varadkar at the UNIFIL base, where Mr. Varadkar reviewed a guard of honour. He also laid wreath at the cenotaph in memory of more than 300 UNIFIL peacekeepers – 47 of them from Ireland – who have lost their lives in the line of duty in south Lebanon.
Major General Beary briefed the Prime Minister and his delegation on the crucial work UNIFIL has been doing together with the parties to achieve the unprecedented 11 years of calm and stability in south Lebanon.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Varadkar paid a visit to his country’s contingent at their base in At Tiri.
The Irish Defence Forces have a long and distinguished history with UNIFIL, with the first Irish peacekeepers joining the mission soon after its establishment in 1978. Irish troops served continuously in Lebanon until November 2001. In the aftermath of the 2006 war, south Lebanon saw a temporary return of some Irish peacekeepers in late 2006 and early 2007.
In 2011, the Irish Government again responded to a request from the UN for troops to serve with UNIFIL with an Infantry Battalion deploying in May 2011. Currently, among UNIFIL’s more than 10,500 peacekeepers, some 380 are from Ireland.
Major General Beary, who has been at the helm of UNIFIL since July 2016, also hails from Ireland.