Sunday 22 April 2018

Watch: 'Nothing prepares you for missing your family' - Irish UN troops return home from Lebanon

During homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
During homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Fran Kelly is greeted by son Francis Kelly (7 months) both from Blanchardstown during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Marie Martin & Sgt Mark Doherty both from Athlone during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Tiernan Kelly with children Aron Kelly (4) and Leah Kelly (70 all from Carrickmacross during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Paul Malone is greeted by Ava Malne (7) both from Mullingar during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Daniel O'Connor

There were scenes of joy, laughter and tears as families greeted the return of the UN Defence Forces in Dublin airport this morning.

The 109th Infrantry Battalion arrived home from Lebanon to a sea of family members at the arrivals lounge of Terminal 1.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Sergeant Joanne Smith said it was "a great feeling" to be home.

“It’s a great feeling. A long time away from home, but it’s great to see the little faces.

Gerry Duff (Damien Duff's Brother) is greeted by his wife Tracy Daniel (18 months), Cillian (3) & Jack (7) all from Drogheda during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Gerry Duff (Damien Duff's Brother) is greeted by his wife Tracy Daniel (18 months), Cillian (3) & Jack (7) all from Drogheda during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

"You can be operationally prepared, but nothing prepares you for missing the family, so it’s just great to be home,” she added.

The highlight for several soldiers was being reunited with their children.

 “We’re gonna relax, do a few fun things and take it easy for the next few weeks,” Corporal Shane Kavanagh said.

For others though, a trip home means going straight back to doing some hard work around the house.

Tiernan Kelly with children Aron Kelly (4) and Leah Kelly (70 all from Carrickmacross during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Tiernan Kelly with children Aron Kelly (4) and Leah Kelly (70 all from Carrickmacross during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

“I have a list as long as his arms with jobs to do, he’ll be very busy,” Michelle Allen, partner of Séamus Ward said.

Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D also welcomed soldiers home this morning, as well as thanking their families.

Marie Martin & Sgt Mark Doherty both from Athlone during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Marie Martin & Sgt Mark Doherty both from Athlone during homecoming scenes involving members of the 109th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force at Dublin Airport following a six month deployment to Lebanon. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

“Ireland could not make such a substantial contribution to international peace support operations without the ongoing commitment of Defence Forces personnel to serve overseas in often difficult and dangerous circumstances.

“I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all of your families and friends and to thank them for their support, which enables you to serve abroad and thereby help to protect and save the lives of countless numbers of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.”

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