Coveney: Ireland must get UN reassurance over Golan mission

Ireland may not replace its 133-person rapid response force in the Golan Heights.

Forty-four peacekeepers from Fiji are being held by militants in the area on the Syrian-Israeli border for the last three days, while the United Nations attempts to negotiate their release.

Ireland's contingent - which is the most heavily armed element of the 1,200 strong multi-national UN mission - recently helped in the rescue of a group of Filipino peacekeepers who were also taken hostage.

The Irish troops were due to be replaced by a new battalion next month, but Minister for Defence Simon Coveney says the UN must review the mandate of the mission if Ireland is to remain part of it.

He said: "We are going to prepare for that and we are going to continue to prepare for that rotation, but I have said I want a review over the next number of weeks so that we get a clear understanding that the UN is responding to the new level of risk and to the new dangers on the ground in Golan, so that we are managing risk in a responsible manner for the troops that we are sending out for that very important mission.

"And if we can't get that reassurance, well then Ireland cannot remain part of that mission."

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