Clonaver Troops Guard Pope In Cyprus

Part-time signallers from east Belfast are expected to be a temporary 'Swiss Guard' later this year.

TA Soldiers from Northern Ireland's 40 (Ulster) Signals Regiment are to provide security for the Pope during an official visit to Cyprus later this year.

A unit made up of regular and reserve troops are due to deploy to the Mediterranean island as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force next month.

They will be based in the capital city of Nicosia and are expected to play a major role in the two-day tour of the island by Pope Benedict XVI.

It will mark the first time soldiers from Northern Ireland have guarded a Pope.

The soldiers, who are normally based at Clonaver Park off the Holywood Road, are being sent to Cyprus as part of Operation Tosca to patrol a buffer zone known as the 'Green Line' which runs through Nicosia following the Turkish invasion in 1974.

They are there to prevent a resurgence of fighting between Greeks and Turks.

Other sections of the Green Line are currently patrolled by Argentinian and Eastern European soldiers.

Colonel Stuart McConnell, the CO, said his soldiers were culturally and politically very highly trained and would be approaching the deployment with a very professional outlook.

See: Hot Posting For TA Signals

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