Over 100 Irish peacekeeping troops return home from Lebanon after coronavirus delay

Over 100 Irish peacekeeping troops return home from Lebanon after coronavirus delay

OVER 100 Irish peacekeeping troops who had been serving in Lebanon have returned to Ireland after an extended spell abroad because of coronavirus. 

Some 115 Irish soldiers touched down in Dublin Airport this morning after their planned rotation home was delayed by several weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The troops had originally been due to return home in May. 

However, that date was pushed back more than six weeks after the UN Secretary General directed all rotations be suspended until June 30 to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

Around 300 members of the Irish Defence Forces have been deployed in South Lebanon since November 2019, serving as part of the 115th Infantry Battalion. 

They had been expecting to remain in the region until the end of the month. 

But the UN agreed to an exemption of the suspension currently in place, allowing Irish troops to return home to families and loved ones ahead of schedule. 

The 115 personnel arriving in Dublin today will be following by the remaining 170 on July 20. 

Extra precautions are being taken with troops required to undergo medical screening upon landing in the Emerald Isle. 

Once home, they are required to spend a minimum of 14 days in self-isolation, as per the rules set out in Health Service Executive Guidelines. 

The departing troops are due to be replaced by the 116th Battalion who will be deployed to UN Interim Force In Lebanon to take over control of the Irish Area of Responsibility.  

The departing troops are required to complete a 14-day quarantine period in Coolmoney Camp and Gormanston Camp before departing.