Overseas mission a top priority for forces
Sending a peacekeeping contingent overseas is to be the top priority for the Defence Forces in the new year -- despite the financial cuts imposed in the Government's four-year plan.
A reduction in budget of €106m -- equivalent to 15pc of current funding -- has left Defence chiefs reeling. But both the Defence Department and military bosses are determined that the savings must be achieved elsewhere and they are pressing ahead with discussions to find a new mission.
Discussions have been under way since the autumn with senior United Nations officials to carve out a new role for the Irish troops overseas.
Lebanon remains the most likely mission for the Irish and it is probable that around 400 troops will be deployed there.
Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieut General Sean McCann, indicated that the troops could again be serving in large numbers overseas by the middle of 2011.
He noted that the Irish familiarity with Lebanon, resulting in a "very good corporate memory", would be a bonus in the talks.