A naval service ship has sailed to Dublin where it is being put at the disposal of the HSE to aid the battle against the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, several Irish troops, stationed in Lebanon and on the Golan Heights, have had their leave cancelled until further notice because the borders they would have to exit to get home have been closed off to slow the spread of the virus.
LÉ Samuel Beckett has been put at the disposal of the HSE, but won’t be confined only to operations in Dublin.
Defence Forces sources said the ship will be able to sail at a moment’s notice and can be deployed to any coastal community in the country within 24 hours.
The ship will be able to fulfil a multiple role assisting with the HSE and local authorities.
It comes with its own medical unit, accommodation, water-making facilities, chefs, electricians, engineers, and specialised technicians.
“These are key skillsets which can be put at the HSE’s disposal immediately. The ship can take on multiple roles,” said a Defence Forces source.
Meanwhile, UNIFIL troops based in Lebanon, and troops serving with another UN mission — UNDOF on the Golan Heights — have had their leave cancelled indefinitely as Syria, Lebanon, and Israel have all closed their borders to prevent the virus spread.
Senior officers said they acknowledged the disappointment felt by families and loved ones due to this announcement, and the decision will be reviewed as the situation develops.
More soldiers were due to go on leave from the Golan Heights than those stationed in the Lebanon.
UNIFIL headquarters received official notification from the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants that Lebanon would no longer accept people who had come from or through countries newly witnessing the outbreak of Covid-19.
This restriction came into place yesterday, and will be reviewed on April 12.
Personnel support services staff and unit liaisons at formation and unit level have contacted families to inform them of the situation.
Meanwhile, the Defence Forces said a plan for psychosocial support for personnel of the Defence Forces and their families for the duration of the Covid-19 event is currently being finalised.
Serving members and their families with specific queries related to Covid-19 should see the members area on the military.ie website.
They can also contact the relevant section by emailing email@example.com.