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Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., Addresses the
2015 Biennial Delegate Conference of the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO)
The Minister for Defence Mr Simon Coveney, T.D., today, (Wednesday 18th November 2015) addressed the Biennial Delegate Conference of the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO), at Killashee Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare.

In his address to the Conference, Minister Coveney acknowledged the value, importance and significance placed by the Government on the tremendous work being done by members of the Defence Forces here at home and in many parts of the world and in doing so he re-iterated that he is committed to maintaining the stabilised strength of the Permanent Defence Force of at least 9,500 personnel.

The Minister commended the crew of L.. Niamh, L.. Eithne and L.. Samuel Beckett for their outstanding endeavors in saving the lives of so many vulnerable and desperate people and all other members of the Defence Forces serving in conflict zones throughout the world.

Looking to the future the Minister stated that “In bringing forward the White Paper, a Key issue for me as Minister of Defence was that I secured a level of resources which would enable the Department of Defence to meet the commitments in the White Paper. I am glad to be able to say therefore, that there has been a significant boost on capital funding for the Defence Sector contained in the recently announced Capital Plan.” The Minister went on to thank RACO for their active engagement in the process, which provided valuable inputs and informed the decisions contained in the White Paper.

The Minister also referred to the dynamic international security environment and the threats emanating from it. “Those threats to the international order, to our European values, to our way of life were brought home to us in terrorists acts on the Streets of Paris last week” the Minister said. It is at these times we look to the agility, readiness and responsiveness of our Defence Forces to meet the challenging and changing demands of the new security environment. Yesterday the Council of Defence Minister’s met. I made it clear that Ireland will do what we can to be of assistance at this time.”

Minister Coveney also stated that “As a result of improved finances we are able to implement a programme of ongoing recruitment of personnel, acquire essential equipment including major platforms and invest in infrastructure within the Defence Forces”. In referring specifically to the Lansdowne Road proposals he stated that he was pleased to note that following a recent Ballot, RACO members have accepted the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

In conclusion the Minister stated the he believes that the “recent publication of the White Paper on Defence has given us a framework that will enable us to successfully address the many challenges the organisation will encounter in the future.” The Minister wished the delegates every success with the remainder of the Conference.

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