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Minister of State at Dept of Defence, Paul Kehoe, T.D.,
Addresses the Biennial Delegate Conference
of the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO)

The Minister of State at the Dept of Defence, Paul Kehoe, T.D., today, (Tuesday 3rd December 2013) addressed the Biennial Delegate Conference of the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, (RACO), at Brooklodge Hotel, Macreddin Village, Co. Wicklow.

Opening his address to the Conference, Minister Kehoe commented on the positive role that RACO had adopted in the Haddington Road Agreement. He said that Despite the challenges faced during the past year, we have continued to maintain the positive environment for industrial relations within the Permanent Defence Force and this is reflected in the substantial achievements over the last year”.

Complimenting RACO on their contribution to the modernisation agenda, the Minister spoke of how impressed he had been by the efficiency with which the organisational reforms, the most significant in the history of the Defence Forces, had been implemented. He added “These reforms have played a very significant role in maintaining defence capabilities and outputs within the current fiscal constraints”. He assured the Conference of the Government’s “commitment to maintaining the essential capabilities of the Defence Forces, so as to contribute to the National Security and to the Defence Forces’ continued participation in international peace support operations”.

Minister Kehoe went on to refer to the important contribution made by the Defence Forces to international peace and security and to Ireland’s positive international reputation in this regard. He stated Participation in overseas peacekeeping missions is a key element of Ireland’s foreign policy and has been an important dimension in meeting Ireland’s international obligations as a member of the United Nations and the European Union”. The Minister took the opportunity to refer to Minister Shatter’s visit to the Middle East, last week, to mark the hand-over of command to the Finnish/Irish Battalion in UNIFIL to Finland. He referred to an incident involving Irish UNDOF personnel that happened last week, he told the delegates that “our troops are deployed to the Golan Heights at a time of increased instability, but they are fully trained and equipped to undertake their duties on behalf of the United Nations”.

Looking to the future the Minister stressed that the “completion of the new White Paper on Defence is a priorityand stated that he is committed “to ensuring the next White Paper provides a robust framework that is capable of meeting the demands of the next decade.”

In his closing remarks the Minister put on record his appreciation for the valuable work the Defence Forces do in many troubled areas of the world, “… as we near Christmas, we particularly remember our personnel who are serving overseas and their families.”, he said.

The Minister concluded by wishing the delegates well with the remainder of the conference.


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