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Aiken Barracks, Dundalk – Monday, 14th September 2020

The Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., met with a number of members of the Defence Forces who are part of the 62nd Infantry Group who will leave in the coming weeks for service with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights. The event comprised a limited version of the usual Ministerial Review of departing contingents due to COVID19 restrictions. The Review was conducted in an outdoor setting and in strict compliance with social distancing guidelines and regulations.

Speaking during the Review, Minister Coveney said:

In these challenging times, it is more essential than ever that we continue to work with the United Nations and the European Union to make peacekeeping operations as efficient and effective as possible. The presence of the UNDOF mission remains an important element in ensuring the continuing ceasefire between Israel and Syria and is supported and welcomed by both countries.

UN Peacekeeping rotations have resumed following an initial suspension announced in April by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister welcomed the resumption of UN rotations despite ongoing challenges such as border closures and quarantine arrangements in host countries. In acknowledging the UN’s priority at this time to safeguard local populations and peacekeepers, Minister Coveney stressed the continued need for vigilance and strict adherence to quarantine requirements. The Minister assured personnel that he “recognised and appreciated, the impact quarantine restrictions is having on members of the Defence Forces and their families “and that “the Government and the public deeply appreciate the additional personal sacrifices that have to be made by deploying troops at this time.”

In his concluding remarks, the Minister asked that his congratulation be passed on to the entire 130 personnel of the 62nd Infantry Group on their training and achievements to date and wished them a safe and successful mission.

Notes:

At the request of the United Nations, following Government and Dáil Éireann approval, a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force was deployed as the Force Mobile Reserve to UNDOF on the Golan Heights in Syria since 2013.

The Irish contingent of the 62nd Infantry Group comprising some 130 personnel, will deploy to Camp Faouar on the Syrian side of the area of separation and replace personnel of the 61st Infantry Group.

Quarantine arrangements: To safeguard local populations and peacekeepers, the 62 Infantry Group will undergo isolation/quarantine in Lynch Camp, Kilworth for the 14 days prior to departure for their flight in the early hours of 07 Oct 2020.  The troops will also quarantine on arrival at the UNDOF mission.


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