Irish general is tipped for top UN post on the Golan
An Irish general is in pole position to secure the most sensitive and strategically important United Nations post in the Middle East.
The appointment would be a major boost to the Defence Forces overseas and significantly strengthen Ireland's negotiating stance on peace issues.
The Irish candidate is Brigadier General Michael Beary, who is strongly fancied to land the position of force commander of the UN peacekeeping mission on the Golan Heights area, separating Syria and Israel.
A Dubliner, General Beary is currently in charge of the 2nd Brigade at home and previous overseas posts included force commander in Somalia.
In an interview with the Irish Independent on the Golan, Defence Minister Simon Coveney confirmed General Beary was regarded as a serious contender.
Mr Coveney said he did not want to be seen as taking the appointment as a done deal, but he was satisfied General Beary was a strong candidate who had the right credentials.
After an interview last week, the general was placed on a shortlist for the job.
The Irish are seen as playing an important role, with more than 130 troops involved in the Undof mission on the Golan, another 181 in south Lebanon and 12 unarmed officers serving with the Untso observer mission. Mr Coveney said the Government was committed to renewing the Golan mission, eliminating earlier doubts that the involvement there could end because of peace contributions elsewhere.
Ireland is the only Western country contributing troops to the Golan at present.
An additional 170 troops will be sent to south Lebanon in November when Ireland takes over the lead role in its joint mission there with Finland.
The Naval Service is also set to send a ship back to the Mediterranean in March to help cope with the flood of refugees trying to flee to Europe to escape the conflicts.
And a decision will be made in the middle of January about deploying more personnel to Mali. The Government decided to send more troops to Mali to allow France withdraw some of its military personnel for deployment at home following the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The Irish commitment would be for less than 100. We currently have 10 personnel there.