The current head of mission and force commander of UNIFIL is Major General Michael Beary of Ireland. Major General Beary was appointed to the post in July 2016. The appointment, which was for an initial period of one year, was extended at the request of the United Nations for a further one-year term up to 15 July 2018.
Major General Beary's appointment to the important post is a tribute to the fine reputation of Irish peacekeepers going back almost six decades and to the skills and attributes that he brings to the job. His track record as a leader in the Defence Forces and now as a leader of a multinational force of over 10,000 speaks for itself.
Major General Beary is on secondment from the Defence Forces to the United Nations and operates under the strategic direction and authorisation from the United Nations Security Council. As head of mission and force commander of UNIFIL Major General Beary is required to attend events in Lebanon and Israel in the performance of his duties as the United Nations impartial representative. In attending the event in question on 18 April 2018, Major General Beary was carrying out his role as mandated by the United Nations.
There has been no change in the threat assessment and no indication that the threat level against Irish troops serving on the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon has increased.
At the United Nations Security Council meeting on UNIFIL last March, the UN Secretary General commended Major General Beary on his leadership of the UNIFIL mission. Strong support for the work being done by Major General Beary was also expressed to me during my recent visit to Lebanon and at my many meetings with Lebanese ministers and officials.
Major General Beary is a distinguished Defence Forces officer with significant previous operational command experience of UN-mandated peacekeeping operations. This experience includes previous service with UNIFIL as an operational commander and an EU training mission in Somalia.
I received a full briefing from Major General Beary in the course of my recent visit to Lebanon on all aspects of the UNIFIL operation. I have full confidence in the capacity of Major General Beary to discharge the office of UNIFIL force commander and head of mission. He has brought with him the knowledge and experience gained by the Defence Forces from nearly 40 years of deployment with UNIFIL in southern Lebanon and in the wider region.
The Defence Forces continually monitor the security situation in Lebanon and I am satisfied that all appropriate security measures are in place to ensure the safety of the Defence Forces personnel serving with UNIFIL.