Minister Killeen announces Lebanon mission The Government at todays meeting (14th December 2010) approved Minister Killeens proposal for the deployment of some 440 Irish troops for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The Defence Minister will proceed in the new year to seek Dáil 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. Since the unexpected and unplanned withdrawal from the UN mission in Chad earlier this year, the Defence Forces and management in the Department have been examining all available options in terms of a deployment for the Defence Forces. The deployment to UNIFIL is planned for the second quarter of 2011 and will be undertaken in association with the Finnish Armed Forces, who also served as part of a joint contingent in the UN mission in Chad. Speaking following the Government decision, the Minister said: It is vitally important for Ireland to maintain a level of commitment to international peacekeeping operations and the obligations it has assumed through its membership of the UN. Overseas operations contribute greatly also to the professional development of the Defence Forces The Minister further stated that savings being achieved through the drawdown of troops from other overseas missions will partially offset the cost of Irelands participation in UNIFIL, most of which will be met by the UN. ENDS Note for Editors: Ireland has a long association with UNIFIL since its establishment in 1978. The main Defence Forces battalion was withdrawn in 2001 following 23 years of service with UNIFIL. Ireland again deployed a contingent to Lebanon in 2006, for a period of 12 months, with a Finnish Engineering company, following on an escalation of hostilities, when the UNIFIL Force was significantly expanded under a UN mandate.