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Dublin: 0 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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'Myself and the children are devastated': Soldiers due to return to Ireland tomorrow face 'unacceptable' delay

A spokesperson for the Department of Defence said that authorities on the ground haven’t yet been granted approval for transportation.

File photo
File photo
Image: Defence Forces/Rollingnews.ie

130 MEMBERS OF the Defence Forces are, for the second time in a year, unable to return home to their families tomorrow.

The troops are part of the UNDOF mission in the Golan Heights and were scheduled to fly out of Beirut and land in Dublin Airport tomorrow morning.

Today, it has emerged that they will not be home as scheduled.  

They have finished a six-month tour of duty and the soldiers to replace them have already arrived.

One wife, who did not want her name used, said: “Myself and the children are devastated, we have gone through a long arduous six months without him.”

“The kids were so excited about seeing their Dad in the morning and having to break the news to them was heartbreaking. The troops of the Irish Defence Forces are treated with utter disdain by the Irish government once again.”

“I know we are in a lucky enough position living close to the airport but some families will have travelled from around the country today to be in Dublin to collect their husbands/dads/sons in the morning.”

“I’m also aware of a number of troops who have travel plans this weekend with their families. This is just another example today of the appalling treatment of our troops by the Taoiseach, Minister Kehoe and the pen pushers in the Department of Defence,” she added. 

PDFORRA confirmed they have been made aware of the issue, and said the delay was totally unacceptable.

General Secretary Ger Guinan said, “we are absolutely gutted for their families and we are deeply disappointed this has arisen, especially as it occurred last October too.”

Mark Keane, President of PDFORRA said this evening, “Our thoughts and concerns are with the personnel involved and their families.

These troops were due to depart the Golan today and arrive home to meet with their families tomorrow. For such a hold up to emerge with two successive units is quite remarkable  – and all those people affected need an immediate explanation.

A spokesperson for the Department of Defence said, “The United Nations is responsible for organising the rotation flights to transport the current UNDOF contingent back to Ireland.” 

“We have been advised by the UN that the Lebanese Authorities have not yet granted approval of the landing clearance in Beirut for the aircraft scheduled to transport the 58th Infantry Group.” 

“Defence Forces personnel on the ground are liaising with the local United Nations personnel, who are doing their utmost to resolve this situation.”

“At the request of Minister Paul Kehoe, Ireland’s Permanent Mission in New York is engaging directly at the highest levels with the UN in New York, with a view to resolving the situation as quickly as possible.”  

“Defence Forces personnel remain at their base at Camp Faoar in Syria pending resolution of the situation.” 

“Families have been informed of this delay by designated Family Liaison Officers, and further updates will continue to be provided as they become available,” the spokesperson added.

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Elaine Keogh

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