Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter, T.D. secures Government approval for deployment of Defence Forces personnel with UNDOF Mission in Syria
The Government at today’s meeting (16th July 2013) approved a proposal from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter, T.D. for the deployment of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria.
The Minister will proceed later this week to seek Dáil Éireann approval for the mission. This will complete the Triple Lock mechanism of UN, Government and Dáil approval before deploying members of the Defence Forces overseas as part of an International United Nations Force.
The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established on 31 May 1974 by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 350 (1974), following the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights in May 1974.
The escalation of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic has affected the UNDOF area of operations significantly in recent months. If approved by Dáil Éireann, the role of the Defence Forces contingent will be to provide a mobile Company as Force Headquarters Reserve in UNDOF to cater for reinforcement, escort and other operations throughout UNDOF’s Area of Responsibility.
Speaking following the Government decision, the Minister said: “UNDOF remains an important element in ensuring some level of stability in the region.” He added “It is important that UNDOF has at its disposal all necessary means and resources to carry out its mandate safely and securely. The support of troop contributing countries, such as Ireland, to UNDOF, allows the mission to continue implementing its mandate in a safe and secure manner.” He went on to say that “the proposed deployment of an Irish contingent to UNDOF, if approved by Dáil Éireann, would bring the strength of the mission up to the authorised level of 1,250.”
Note to Editor
On 1 July 2013, Ireland received a request from the United Nations to consider contributing to UNDOF a Mechanised Infantry Company for the tasks of a Force Mobile Reserve. The Defence Forces have previous experience in a similar role in Liberia and Lebanon.
Following Government approval, three members of the Permanent Defence Force were deployed in June 2013 to the UNDOF mission headquarters at Camp Faouar in the Golan Heights. A fourth member of the Permanent Defence Force will be deployed to the mission HQ shortly.
The mandate of the UNDOF mission was recently renewed under UN Security Council Resolution 2108 (2013) for a further period of six months.
UNDOF is assisted by over eighty (80) military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation’s (UNTSO) Observer Group Golan, which currently includes ten (10) Irish Officers.