Royal Irish reservists have arrived in Cyprus to take on peace keeping duties.
They undertook a three-week quarantine period on the island as a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic before becoming ready for service.
The soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, then made history when they became the first reservists to receive operational handover from other reservists from the 7 Rifles battlegroup, drawn from Exeter and the South West.
2 Royal Irish, as part of the part of the 6 Rifles battlegroup, are serving in Operation Tosca, the UK’s contribution to the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Cyprus.
I want to know more about what the Rifles Reserve is getting up to at the moment? Watch us make history here:https://t.co/CknoWBA5Nv
— Lt Col Andy Pearce (@6RIFLES_CO) October 9, 2020
The historic handover took place in the grounds of the historic Ledra Palace Hotel.
The former palace is now the headquarters of Sector 2 of the UN’s Buffer Zone, one of three sectors spanning a total of 180km and dividing Cyprus since the Turkish intervention in 1974.
The mission is to maintain a stable environment and de-escalate the military presence along the Buffer Zone in order to set the conditions for a just and lasting political solution to be found.
Lieutenant Colonel Andy Pearce, Commanding Officer of 6th Battalion, The Rifles Regiment, said: “This is a prime opportunity for our reservists to show the added value they bring from their civilian workplaces.
“The interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills they have acquired are invaluable on a Peacekeeping operation such as this.”
The reservists, all volunteers for the deployment, arrived in Cyprus around three weeks ago to quarantine before the handover.
Ranger G from Newtownabbey said the quarantine allowed them more time to plan and prepare for duties.
“It’s great to finally be here in Cyprus getting on with the job in hand,” Ranger G said.
“The Covid-19 restrictions placed on us during our pre-deployment training have actually worked in our favour; in that we now plan and deliver our tasks in a more efficient and innovative manner.
“As you would expect, everyone in Ranger Company, 2 Royal Irish is in great form and relishing the challenges the next six months on Operation Tosca will bring.”