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This is what Christmas looked like for Irish troops serving overseas

There were 430 military personnel stationed in Lebanon, the Golan Heights and other regions these holidays.

WHILE MOST PEOPLE got to spend Christmas with their loved-ones, 430 of Ireland’s military personnel spent yesterday’s holiday far away from their families.

The biggest contingent were the 199 Defence Forces personnel serving with the United Nations force in Lebanon, while 138 were stationed with the agency’s corps in the Golan Heights.

Tension was still high in both regions, but officials were hoping for a long enough pause in activity for troops to enjoy a Christmas meal.

Some of those serving in Lebanon visited an orphanage in the village of Tibnin, near the country’s southern border with Syria.

FINIRISHBATT troops visit a local orphanage in Tibnine as part of their Christmas celebrations.

Soldiers also laid roses at a local memorial in tribute to the 47 Irish troops who had been killed as part of the force stationed in southern Lebanon over the past 23 years.

Irish soldiers were withdrawn from the region in 2001, but they were called back in 2011 as conflict between Lebanon and Israel flared up again.

CS Mark Gallacher places a rose at Tibnine Monument in memory of fallen comrades

Meanwhile behind the scenes, other personnel were working to keep the defence machinery operational for those in the field.

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In his message to the troops for Christmas, Defence Minister Simon Coveney said people should be proud of the work Irish troops were doing in the Middle East.

“Wherever I went in the Middle East people talked about Irish troops, Irish soldiers with a sense of admiration – the work you’re doing is hugely valuable and you’re leaders in the field for other peacekeepers who are working with you,” he said.

Source: MerrionStreetNews/YouTube

Did you have family or friends serving overseas on Christmas this year, or in past seasons? Let us know in the comments below.

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Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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