the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, TD has secured Government approval for continued participation in Lebanon mission.
Currently there are 30 Curragh-based personnel who are currently serving with UNIFIL - 25 as part of the 106th Infantry battalion and another five are based at the UNIFIL Force Headquarters in Naqoura.
This contingent of the Permanent Defence Force will now continue to serve with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), for a further period of 12 months from 30 May 2012.
The 106th Infantry Battalion, which comprises 332 personnel and deployed to UNIFIL earlier this month, will be working alongside Finnish Armed Forces as part of a joint Irish/Finnish battalion with effect from June 1 2012. Both Ireland and Finland have a long, and honourable, tradition of active involvement in peace keeping operations and both forces previously served together in the Lebanon mission in 2006/2007 and more recently in the UN operation in Chad.
Speaking following the Government decision, Mr Shatter said: “Ireland’s participation in UNIFIL is an illustration of the very positive and practical difference that a small country like Ireland can make in the world’s trouble spots by supporting the United Nations”. The Minister added: “I welcome the participation of Finland in this mission. A partnership such as this is but one example, which demonstrates the joint contribution two small countries can make to international peace and security”.