Tipperary troops fly the blue and gold flag in Lebanon
Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has welcomed the official announcement of a date for the return of our Irish troops serving in the UNFIL Mission in Lebanon. It has been announced this morning that the Troops will now return on June 22 and 29.
The troops who were to finish their rotation and return home on May12 and 19 but as part of its response to the Covid pandemic the United Nations directed the suspension of all rotations and leave for military personnel serving in UN missions until 30 June.
The UN however wrote to our government a number of weeks ago seeking exemptions to this suspension, however, the Government unfortunately waited 2 weeks before responding to the UN seeking an exemption for our troops to return without delay.
“While the announcement of an official date is certainly welcome for the troops and their families who have been left in limbo and anxiously waiting a date for their return, the delay in responding and finalising a date has been a major frustration and blow to the troops and their families. The government were aware of the requests to have our troops return as I raised this with the Taoiseach in the Dáil as far back as April 16.
To learn that the government waited two weeks before responding to the UN seeking the return of our troops was just another step in a long series of events that have illustrated this government's lack of respect for our troops and their families.
This unfortunately is not the first time delays with rotations have been experienced by our troops waiting to return home and it must not be a feature of future rotations. Our next government must finally start to show our defence forces the respect they deserve by improving their working pay and conditions and I will continue to raise this with the next Government and Minister for Defence but in the meantime, I am pleased that families can now start to look forward to and plan for the return of their loved ones.” concluded McGrath.
Troops in the Lebanon are involved in an line exercise to aid local charities in Ireland while they are waiting to return home.