Friday 16 March 2012 - 524 Irish Soldiers Bring St Patrick's Day Cheer.

On St Patricks Day 2012, 524 Irish Soldiers will find themselves deployed in 14 countries across the globe on peace support missions. From the Congo to Kosovo, Afghanistan to Uganda, Irish Troops will complete their duties first and then celebrate our National Day with a mixture of military and national tradition.

Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean Mc Cann sent his best wishes to the men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann who are deployed overseas for St Patrick's Day, " Let me express my best wishes and gratitude to you, the men and women of the Irish Defence Forces, as you celebrate our National Day far from home, your commitment and professionalism remains a source of great pride."

In Sarajevo, Bosnia, the Senior Irish Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Pat O'Leary started the celebrations for the Irish Defence Forces on the morning of 16 March when he presented a traditional bowl of Shamrock to the Commander of the European Union Force, Major General Robert Brieger of Austria.  

In Kinshasa, Congo, the Irish Contingent with MONUSCO hosted a gathering on the evening of 16 March when the working day was done with other members of this peacekeeping mission and some invited guests from the community there. The guests were then introduced to the world of the "blank" (non-alcoholic) Irish Coffee and listened to some traditional Irish Music.

In Pristina, Kosovo, the Senior Irish Officer, Colonel John Hamill will award mission service medals and shamrock on St Patrick's Day to members of the Irish Contingent with the Kosovo Force (KFOR). This ceremony will then be followed by an international puc fada contest, which the Irish Contingent are favourites to win.

The majority of Irish Troops overseas are based with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Tibnin. Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Paul Kehoe TD will be the guest of honour at the medal parade for the 434 members of 105th Infantry Battalion on St Patricks Day. The Force Commander, Major General Paoulo Serra of Italy will award the UNIFIL Service Medal to the troops on parade and all personnel will proudly wear Shamrock. The remainder of the Battalion will remain fully operational with the daily business of patrolling along the "blue line" between Lebanon and Israel continuing in this volatile part of the Middle East.

In Kabul, Afghanistan, the Irish Contingent to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will host a parade where Shamrock will be presented to the Deputy Commander of ISAF, Lieutenant General Adrian Bradhsaw from the United Kingdom and the other members of the Force who claim Irish heritage. The staff in the headquarters will later sit down to a special lunch of Irish Stew, laid on by the catering staff in the dining facility.  

All Irish Military Personnel deployed overseas for St Patrick's Day will continue to proudly wear the Irish Tricolour Badge on their left arm and those not deployed on operational duties will hope to sit down and cheer on the Irish Rugby Team on this special day, albeit a long way from family, friends and loved ones. 

Press Release Date:  16 March, 2012

For Further Information contact:

Press Officer: Comdt. Denis Hanly

Tel: 045 49 2502 , 045 49 2503

Mobile : 087 2482130

E-mail: Press Officer