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  • A good article from a UN magazine.

    Irish peacekeepers are back to a southern welcome

    Many southerners have a good reason to smile. Irish peacekeepers are back.

    “We welcome the Irish army’s return to Lebanon”, the billboard read at the entrance to Tibnin, telling of the views of many in this southern Lebanese town.

    Mansour Mansour, a store owner, put up the billboard in gratitude to the Irish peacekeepers who saved his father’s life on Christmas night 1980 after their house was hit by a bomb in the village of Hadatha.

    “The Irish helped my father and gave him medical treatment,” he said, adding that the wounded man was evacuated by helicopter by a Captain named O’Brien. A blood transfusion kept him alive until he reached hospital, where he was treated for more than 40 days.

    The relationship between the Irish contingent of UNIFIL and the people of southern Lebanon dates back to the early days when the peacekeeping force deployed to the area in 1978. The troops lived through the good and bad with the people and lost 47 members in the line of duty in the service of peace.

    Now this close relationship, interrupted by the withdrawal of the contingent years ago
    but continuously nurtured in the minds and thoughts of southerners like Mansour, is
    being revived.

    Ali Dakik, another Tibnin store owner whose hope that the Irish would return to the same area had come true, now has an opportunity to again greet his old Irish friends and meet the new ones. In his words, the Irish peacekeepers became part of the family. It is incomplete without them.

    “The relationship with the Irish battalion went beyond just a relationship between members of the United Nations and the locals,” Dakik recalled of the past years. “There are some Irish soldiers who got married to Lebanese women. They worked on the ground, they visited the people and the villages. These are things that reflected positively on the relationship between the Irish and the civilians.”

    Ireland was one of the first contributors to UNIFIL, providing troops since its onset. They remained deployed during some of the worst periods of conflict in southern Lebanon and faced hard times along with the population. The troops were withdrawn in 2001 and returned in 2007-2008 before being withdrawn again. Irish officers, however, continued to serve at UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura.

    About 450 Irish troops deployed in June 2011, with their headquarters at Tibnin – a base befittingly named Camp Shamrock, after the three-leafed symbol of Ireland. They have since also taken up posts along the Blue Line.

    In one of their first acts, and in a tribute to the past and their belonging to south Lebanon, on Wednesday 6 July the Irish peacekeepers held a memorial to remember fallen comrades. A Mass was held, a bagpiper played somber music as officers laid a wreath and troops saluted at the Tibnin memorial that is dedicated to the 47 Irish peacekeepers who died in southern Lebanon.

    Two days later, the Irish Battalion welcomed at its Camp Shamrock UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas.

    “The contributions of Irish peacekeepers to UNIFIL go back to 1978, as old as UNIFIL. They have lost brave soldiers in the service of peace in this dear land. I am proud to have you here,” Major-General Asarta said.

    For his part, Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Bolger, the Commanding Officer of the Irish Battalion, said: "It is of vital importance that we work in close cooperation and coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces for the implementation of UNIFIL's mandate and tomaintain peace and security in the south."

    The people of Tibnin have painful stories to tell during the years of conflict but fond memories of how the Irish handled it.

    Dakik remembers how in 1986 Irish peacekeepers saved a wounded civilian from certain death in nearby Hariss village. “Because of the blood that was donated by the Irish he survived and he is still alive to this moment.”

    Mohammad Fawaz, head of an orphanage in the town, recalled how the Irish peacekeepers entertained children “who were young and afraid” because of the conflict and did not leave them. “Such things can never be forgotten, of course.”

    The Irish soldiers who have served before don’t see much in change in the southerner’s hospitality these days _ “Still warm as ever”, as Petty officer Robbie Doyle put it. But it was noticeable for them the stability and economic development the country has witnessed over the years.

    “Everywhere you go the Lebanese Army is around, they have the checkpoints and so on. That tells me that normality is coming back to the south of Lebanon, that Lebanese Army can take over and we will go home in due course,” Sergeant Tony Grehan said.

    For Sergeant-Major Noel O’Callaghan most felt is the improvement in infrastructure. “It gives me a great hope that UNIFIL has made a great difference here, that I had made a difference.”

    Rania Bdeir UNIFIL Public Information

    Comment


    • nice one.
      RGJ

      ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

      The Rifles

      Comment


      • several posts have been removed from this page by the moderator, I have a right to read this site as you all do, instead I spent most of my limited internet time dealing with the squabbleing of 2 pre-pubecent skoolgirls, NO MORE OK!!!!!
        "We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey"
        Radio transmission, siege of Jadotville DR Congo. September 1961.
        Illegitimi non carborundum

        Comment


        • RGJ apologised...and the Mod took it down........WTF....!!!
          Covid 19 is not over ....it's still very real..Hand Hygiene, Social Distancing and Masks.. keep safe

          Comment


          • Good point, blame excessive work load.......
            "We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey"
            Radio transmission, siege of Jadotville DR Congo. September 1961.
            Illegitimi non carborundum

            Comment


            • Comment


              • Re dismounting from the APC. What has happened to dash-down-cover-crawl-observe-sights-fire? They would have their heads shot off!!

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Smithy View Post
                  Re dismounting from the APC. What has happened to dash-down-cover-crawl-observe-sights-fire? They would have their heads shot off!!
                  Thats reaction to effective enemy fire. Hard to tell if they were under fire or just dismounting tactically.

                  Comment


                  • Another good UN article.

                    "Mingey Street"
                    and the story behind a name


                    Every day in UNIFIL parlance the word "Mingey" crops up. There are Mingey men, Mingey shops, Mingey tapes, Mingey watches, Mingey food and Mingey barber. The list is endless.

                    "Mingey Street" is Main Street, where everything is in Naqoura outside the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.

                    Where did the expression originate from? In 1960, Belgian settlers were fleeing the Congo in large numbers and were anxious to convert their local currency holdings to hard currency. This illegal money exchange was conducted on the street corners of Leopoldville and Elizabethville. "Mingey" was the local dialect for "much", "many", "a lot of".

                    It’s a scene and sound that became familiar to soldiers of the ONUC UN peacekeeping force deployed to the Congo during that period.

                    Then souvenirs of carved ivory and ebony appeared on that stretch. These were, of course, referred to as "mingeys". The traders who sold them became "mingey men", and when souvenirs were packed it was with nothing other than "mingey boxes”.

                    In 1963, Irish peacekeepers were redeployed from the Congo to Cyprus as part of UNFICYP. They took with them enhanced skills in peacekeeping. They also took with them the name "Mingey".

                    Very soon Turkish Cypriot tailors were putting "Mingey tailor" signs outside their shops. Greek Cypriots also quickly adopted the word. It was in common use for 10 years in Cyprus until the Irish peacekeepers were sent to UNEF II in Sinai. Soon the "Mingey men" of EI Arish and EI Nagela came on the scene.

                    By the time the Irish came to UNIFIL in 1978 the word was being used by a second generation of Irish soldiers.

                    The peacekeepers were the first who used "Mingey” in everyday conversation, scarcely knowing that it was their fathers who had brought it back from Africa.

                    Almost immediately the "mobile mingey men" arrived in Naqoura where the UNIFIL HQ has been established, setting their wares outside the gates.

                    As the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) became a more permanent fixture, more permanent shanties started to appear whose signs read "Genuine Lebanese Mingey Shop".

                    Naqoura, a sleepy fishing port and village in the remote end of Lebanon, has quickly expanded. Mingey shops cropped up outside the camp. A whole street existed and what could be more natural than to call it "Mingey Street" .

                    Usage of the word developed into some kind of trademark, with “Mingey” attached to everything sold on the street outside UNIFIL’s HQ walls in Naqoura. Even the famous traditional Lebanese dishes of Houmos and Falafel are called “Mingey Houmos and Falafel” on that street.

                    This is Mingey, believe it or not.

                    Hassan Siklawi UNIFIL Political and Civil Affairs

                    Comment


                    • Three of the troops who returned home from Lebanon last week were on TV3's Midweek show last night.
                      Interview starts at 34 minutes in.

                      http://www.tv3.ie/3player/show/192/0/0/MidWeek

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Rhodes View Post
                        Three of the troops who returned home from Lebanon last week were on TV3's Midweek show last night.
                        Interview starts at 34 minutes in.

                        http://www.tv3.ie/3player/show/192/0/0/MidWeek

                        Colette Fitzpatrick, in a heartbeat.

                        Comment


                        • tried to watch but only ads kept repeating...

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by golden rivet View Post
                            tried to watch but only ads kept repeating...
                            +1


                            Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by golden rivet View Post
                              tried to watch but only ads kept repeating...
                              +2
                              "Well, stone me! We've had cocaine, bribery and Arsenal scoring two goals at home. But just when you thought there were truly no surprises left in football, Vinnie Jones turns out to be an international player!" (Jimmy Greaves)!"

                              Comment


                              • Rockets from Lebannon hit Israel, Artillery fire returned.

                                http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/16119858

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