Mon 12 October 2015 - Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Presents Peace Peacekeeping Medals .

Today the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral (VADM) Mark Mellett DSM, presented the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping medal to eighty-two (82) personnel of the 49th Infantry Group who are nearing their first Tour of Duty to South Lebanon. On his first official overseas visit as Chief of Staff, VADM Mellett met with the UNIFIL Force Commander Major General Luciano Portolano, received an operational brief from the Officer Commanding the 49th Infantry Group Lieutenant Colonel Ian Byrne DSM and visited UN position 6-52 on the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel.

During the visit VADM Mellett congratulated the men and women of the Unit stating

"It is a source of pride to me to see the contribution Irish troops have made to the economic and social development of the region by providing a safe and secure environment in a spirit of friendship and close cooperation with the people of South Lebanon. It has not been an easy road but the Irish Defence Forces, on behalf of the Irish people, have stood steadfast in their commitment to peace in Lebanon and the broader Middle East. The memory and legacy of our 47 comrades that gave their lives in the implementation of this mission are always in our thoughts."

The 49th Infantry Group, drawn mainly from Cork, Limerick, and Kildare is the first overseas unit to benefit from the Defence Forces Family Friendly policy regarding overseas service. This initiative allows personnel to serve for a three (3) month tour of duty instead of the, until now, mandatory six months. 6 personnel of the 49th Infantry Group availed of this opportunity.

The 49th Infantry group has the highest percentage of female personnel ever to deploy overseas in one unit. There are 24 female soldiers ranging from Captain to Private serving alongside their male colleagues in a variety of operational roles.This amounts to a total of 14% of the 49th Infantry Group. Recognising this landmark demographic, VADM Mellett stated;

"Female participation is an operational force multiplier. The fact the 14% of the 49th Infantry Group is female, in roles ranging from infantry soldiers, medics, engineers and Bomb Disposal Experts is a powerful indication of the operational agility women bring to Peace Support Operations in any given theatre. The Defence Forces is committed to increasing female participation over the lifetime of the White Paper on Defence." 

The 49th Infantry Group have been deployed since May 2014  and is operating as part of a Finnish/Irish Battalion.

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Press Release Date: Mon 12 October 2015

For Further Information contact:

Press Officer: Comdt. Seán Ó Fátharta

Tel: 045 49 2502 , 045 49 2503

Mobile : 087 2482130

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