Belfast Telegraph

Lebanon tour troop following father

A young solider bound for Lebanon has revealed she can hardly wait to follow in her father's footsteps and serve overseas.

Private Emma Furlong will be among 440 Irish troops who will make up part of the peacekeeping mission with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The 20-year-old, who grew up at the Curragh, where her father Daniel is still based, is the youngest solider in the battalion.

She said: "I'm so excited. I've always been interested in joining the military because I grew up with it. My mother is a bit upset because I'm so young and it's my first time away from home, but I just can't wait to get over there."

Defence Minister Alan Shatter reviewed the members of the 104th Infantry Battalion during a parade at Custume barracks, Athlone. They leave later this month.

He issued a tribute to the 47 Irish troops who have lost their lives in the cause of peace in the troubled state.

He said: "Occasions such as this remind us of the important part our Defence Forces play as peacekeepers throughout the world. The situation in Lebanon has been marked by rising tensions in recent months. As recently as last Friday six Italian peacekeepers were wounded in a bomb attack on their vehicle in the southern port city of Sidon."

The Irish battalion will be based in Sector West in an area designated by the force commander, centred on the major towns of Tibnine and Bint Jubyal, and the "Blue Line", which separates Lebanon and Israel.

Some 90 troops travelled out last week to set up base camp for the main contingent, which will protect civilians and monitor and patrol some 140km sq.

Ireland's participation in the mission is expected to continue for up to four years.

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