Belfast Telegraph

President salutes Lebanon troops

President Michael D Higgins has sent Christmas greetings to troops in Lebanon during a live video link from the Aras.

The President spoke to soldiers based at Camp Shamrock during a reception for almost 220 family members of the Defence Forces personnel of the 105th Infantry Battalion UNIFIL.

Mr Higgins said he was speaking for all Irish citizens when he told them how deeply he appreciated the generous sacrifice troops and their families are making.

"You should all be very proud of yourselves. I am certainly very proud of you," he said to the soldiers.

"Time and again our courageous Defence Forces make huge personal sacrifices in order to serve the needs of distressed people throughout the world.

"Not only do you ensure that Ireland earns international trust and respect, you also wonderfully represent the care, the generosity, the sense of justice, and the good humour in times of difficulty that are such an important part of our Irishness.

"I thank you again for making us all feel so proud of your contribution to peace and would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a contented and peaceful New Year."

The reception is one of the last pre-Christmas engagements for the newly elected President, who is due to undergo knee surgery this week.

The 70-year-old suffered an injury when he slipped and fell during an aid trip to Colombia last year.

Mr Higgins will attend the Bon Secours Hospital in Galway tomorrow and will return to his official residence within a week to spend Christmas with his family.

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