Irish troops in Lebanon. Defence Forces
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Irish troops in Lebanon to return home at the end of next month after Covid-19 delay

Upon arrival in Ireland, personnel will be required to spend 14 days in self-isolation.

IRISH TROOPS CURRENTLY on deployment in Lebanon are to return home in two batches towards the end of June, it has been confirmed by the Defence Forces.

The 115th Infantry Battalion has been on a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) deployment for six months but its replacement has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 5 April, the United Nations Secretary General directed the suspension of all rotations and leave for military personnel serving in UN missions until 30 June.

This had led to a lack of clarity for Defence Forces members and their families as to when the current troops could be replaced. The originally planned dates were 12 and 19 May.

Both the Defence Forces and Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe have said today that the UN has agreed to an exemption of the suspension which will allow Ireland to rotate all its deployed troops in Lebanon ahead of 30 June.

It has now been confirmed that the rotation of the 115th Battalion home from Lebanon is planned for 21 and 29 June. The 116th Battalion will deploy to Lebanon to take over control of the Irish area of responsibility.

Upon arrival in Ireland, personnel will be required to spend 14 days in self-isolation. The 116th Battalion will complete a 14 day quarantine period in Coolmoney Camp and Gormanston Camp before travelling to Lebanon.

“We acknowledge that this delay to the original rotation dates is disappointing to our personnel and their families who have been separated from their loved ones for over six months. Their sacrifice and resilience during this time of national crisis has been very commendable,” the Defence Forces said in a statement.

Ireland’s presence in Lebanon represents the country’s largest overseas deployment.

The minister said today that last week it had been announced that the “likely timing” for the rotation of Irish troops was to be “late June and early” but that this has been brought forward by about a week with the agreement of UN officials.

“This flexibility from the UN resulted from the immediate and coordinated case advanced at mission level, by the Chief of Staff and at UN Headquarters by the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,” Kehoe said.

“Within UNIFIL, only two other countries received a full or partial exemption for their contingents.”

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