Billy Timmins TD, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Defence, and Bernard Allen TD, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, have today (Thursday) reiterated their support for a new UN peace keeping force in Lebanon, and have called on the Government to clarify if the Dáil will be recalled on this issue.
Deputy Timmins said:
“Fine Gael supports the involvement of members of the Defence Forces in an expanded United Nations (UN) force in Lebanon. Ireland has a long and distinguished record of service with the UN, and we should also play our part in underpinning stability in Lebanon, and supporting the new ceasefire.
“The safety of any Irish personnel who may serve with the UN in Lebanon is of paramount importance. Before Irish troops become involved in any new UN force in Lebanon it must be shown that the current ceasefire is holding, and that it is respected by all sides of the conflict.
“The UN force in Lebanon must also have a very clear mandate, and must command the support of both the Israeli and Lebanese Governments in the implementation of that mandate. The cooperation of these Governments will be crucial to the success of any new UN force.
“The new UN mission should be one of peace keeping. Given the turmoil and loss of life in the region in recent weeks, the primary responsibility of this UN force should be to underpin moves to bring stability to the region and to protect the current ceasefire. The issue of the disarmament of Hezbollah, and other militias, has already been the subject of UN resolutions, and should remain the responsibility of the Lebanese Government.
Deputy Allen added
“UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had hoped that the new UN force would be in place within a matter of days. Clearly, there is a need to move quickly to bolster the new ceasefire. Irish troops are already serving in the Lebanon, but any new troop deployment will be as part of a new UN mission and subject to a new UN resolution.
“The Government should clarify if the Dáil will be recalled on this issue. Fine Gael will support the recall of the Dáil to debate this mission, and to approve Irish involvement in a new peace keeping force.
“These are clear criteria for the involvement of Irish troops in a new UN force in Lebanon. We strongly support Ireland’s involvement in bringing peace to Lebanon, and the entire region, but the principal actors in this conflict must have respect for the role of the UN, and must acknowledge and support this role.”