Lebanon mission for Irish troops
Hundreds of Irish soldiers are to be deployed to a peace-keeping mission in Lebanon in the new year, it was announced today.
Defence Minister Tony Killeen said 440 troops would be sent to the troubled Middle Eastern country before next summer to serve under the United Nations.
The Cabinet has approved the proposal and Mr Killeen will seek the backing of the Dail in the coming months.
"It is vitally important for Ireland to maintain a level of commitment to international peace-keeping operations and the obligations it has assumed through its membership of the UN," he said.
"Overseas operations contribute greatly also to the professional development of the Defence Forces."
Army chiefs had been considering options for the international deployment of troops since the unexpected and unplanned withdrawal from Chad earlier this year.
The Irish troops will serve alongside the Finnish armed forces in Lebanon, who were also involved in the UN mission in Chad.
Mr Killeen said most of the costs of the Middle East mission will be met by the UN.
Irish soldiers served in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) from its establishment in 1978 until 2001, when the main battalion was withdrawn.
Another contingent was deployed for one year in 2006 after an escalation in hostilities.