29. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Defence if he will report to the Dáil on the deployment of the 43rd infantry group of the Irish Defence Forces in the Golan Heights in Syria; the missions the Irish Defence Forces have been involved in to date in Syria; and the date on which it is expected that those members of the Defence Forces will return home. (Question 46640/13 asked on 06 Nov 2013)

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 17, 23 and 29 together.

I addressed the question of Defence Forces participation in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights in Syria, in answering the priority PQ earlier.

The Irish 43rd Infantry Company currently serving with UNDOF deployed to the mission area on 28 September 2013 and achieved full operational capability on 02 October 2013. Their role includes the provision of a Quick Reaction Force which is on standby to assist with on-going operations within the UNDOF Area of Responsibility. The Irish Infantry Group also carries out patrols and convoy escorts as necessary.

Initial deployment to UNDOF will be for one (1) year. This will, of course, be subject to renewal of the UN mandate and a satisfactory review of the mission at that time. Personnel of the Infantry Group will be rotated on a six-monthly basis. The first rotation of Irish personnel is scheduled for March 2014.