A STORY published in the national media this week (8 April) has caused “shock and upset” in Kildare, after it claimed there would be a month’s delay on soldiers returning from abroad BEFORE the Department of Defence had notified soldiers involved or their families.
The story, by Irish Independent Security Correspondent, Tom Brady was posted online in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Unfortunately, this was a number of hours before the OC of 115Btn got a chance to tell his troops at first parade at their UN compound in the Golan Heights in The Lebanon, and in turn they their families.
“It was with great disappointment and upset that the wives and partners of the Defence Forces (WPDF) read this,” said spokesperson and Newbridge resident Sarah Walshe whose husband is a corporal in country.
“Some of them are on a six-month rotation, but some of them have done two trips back to back, and have been gone for a year,” she pointed out.
“Some of these were people who couldn’t come home on leave recently, and now this!” she added.
“As it stands there’s no directive from the UN, and the response we get is that no definitive decision hasbeen made to bring that Batallion home just yet,” she said.
“The Department of Defence hasn’t issued a statement if this is happening or not,” said Sarah, herself also a frontline servant with the HSE.
“What was really upsetting was to read this was happening, but that this was not communicated to the troops out there – them and their families,” she pointed out.
“So, who has told this to Tom Brady? There was no black-out (sic) time allowed to inform the troops.
“It’s completely disrespectful, because a little bit of tact would’ve gone a long way when you have to tell a young child their parent is not coming home, and the teenagers already reading it online,” she explained.
In response to an inquiry from the Kildare Nationalist the Department of Defence said it has no role in determining what any journalist may write or publish.
In response to a general query regarding the impact of Covid19 on rotations, the Department stated that the Defence Forces were examining the potential impacts on rotations given the increased restrictions on movements into and out of host states where we are deployed.
Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis, and in order to mitigate its transmission, the United Nations Secretary General in recent days advised all troop contributors and UN mission commanders of his plans to suspend all rotations and leave for military personnel serving in UN missions until 30 June.
This is a decision which effects all contingents from all countries in all missions. The main impact for the Defence Forces will be on the deployments to MINUSMA in Mali where personnel are due to rotate later this month and for UNIFIL in Lebanon where personnel are due to rotate in two rotations in May, (12th and the 19th).