Father and son among troops in latest Lebanon deployment

David O'Mara and his dad Paul

A father and son are among the latest Irish troops being despatched to a United Nations peace-keeping mission in the Middle East.

Company sergeant Paul O’Mara, 47, and Private David O’Mara, 24, from Kells, Co Meath, will be manning the border between Lebanon and Israel during a six-month tour of duty starting later this month.

Although they’ll be stationed in the same camp, they are in separate units of the 42nd Infantry Group and father Paul has vowed not to pull rank on his only son.

“He’s got his own boss over there,” he said.

“And I have my guys to look after as well.

“We will meet each other occasionally, and have a drink together.

“But that’s about it.”

But pressed further whether he would be keeping a close eye on this son, he admitted: “Yeah, secretly.

“I’ll be asking how he’s getting on with the other company sergeants.”

Veteran Paul is on his eleventh overseas mission with the Defence Forces – and his sixth trip to Lebanon – while son David is one of 60 troops in the group who are on their first operation abroad.

The young private insisted he was not worried about being watched over by his father and said his mum, who they leave behind along with two sisters, was happier they were going together.

“I don’t mind, I get on grand with him,” he said.

“I’m just looking forward to getting over there.

“He’s been giving me good advice.”

The pair will return home for nine days over Christmas as one of Paul’s daughters is getting married on December 21.

Asked if they were worried about the latest tensions in the region, he said: “No.

“We are well trained for it.”

Some 181 troops from 22 counties around Ireland will travel to southern Lebanon on the latest United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) mission.

The 42nd Infantry Group will join up with Finnish soldiers in the joint peace-keeping task.

Defence Minister Alan Shatter, inspecting the troops at Cathal Brugha barracks in Rathmines, Dublin, said Ireland had played a great role in maintaining peace in the region.

“We have a very sound understanding of the complexities of that region, and I received constant praise from the UN, from my fellow EU defence ministers, for the professionalism and the work the Irish mission are doing there,” he said.

“It is a very important mission, it is one that we are very familiar with and one I expect we will continue to be engaged with for some time yet.”

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