I visited Irish troops serving with the United Nations in Cyprus, Lebanon and Syria during the period 13 to 23 March 1997. On St. Patrick's Day I attended a medal parade for Irish troops in Lebanon. The primary purpose of my visit was to see for myself the work of Irish military personnel, serving in the region and to assure them, on behalf of the Government and people of Ireland, of how proud we are of the outstanding manner in which they have consistently performed their duties on United Nations service.
I was accompanied by my wife, my private secretary, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces and the Chief of Staff's Personal Staff Officer. The total cost in relation to the visit is not yet available but is estimated to be in the region of £12,000.
The Minister of State had no official engagement on St. Patrick's Day.