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Speech by the Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., at the unveiling of a sculpture for the new Civil Defence Headquarters

Benamore, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary 18 January 2007.

Chairman and Members of the Civil Defence Board, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to be here today for the official unveiling of the sculpture for the Civil Defence Board’s new headquarters.

Just last September, I officially opened this new state-of-the-art Headquarters for the Board here in Roscrea and I am delighted to have this opportunity to return to Benamore on this occasion.

The sculpture, I will shortly unveil, was created by Michael Burke from Ballyfin, on a commission by the Office of Public Works. Michael is a talented and highly regarded sculptor who works in a variety of materials and samples of his work can be seen both in Ireland and abroad.

His sculpture is entitled ”Containment”. He says the inspiration for the piece was derived from the period when Civil Defence was first established. It is a very attractive work which both complements and enhances the new headquarters building very elegantly.

As you may be aware today’s Civil Defence organisation grew out of the old Air Raid Precautions Service dating back to the time of the Second World War. The organisation was established by the Government in 1950, during the early stages of the Cold War, a time when the issue of “containment” of the possible consequences of a nuclear war was uppermost in people’s minds.

Civil Defence has moved on in leaps and bounds since those days. It has evolved into a well regarded and highly effective second-line emergency service, supporting all of the emergency services and acting as a great support to communities throughout the country.

Indeed, since its establishment, Civil Defence volunteers have generously given of their time and skills to help their local communities in times of need and to assist nationally in times of crisis. The effects of many a tragedy have been minimised or “contained” by their efforts. I am confident that these efforts will continue into the future in the tradition of the great organisation that is Civil Defence.

Before I move to unveil the sculpture I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Bill Smith on his appointment as Director General of the Civil Defence Board and to wish him success in the years ahead. I also want to sincerely thank the Chairman of the Civil Defence Board, Mr. Joe Meagher, the Board Members, the staff, and each and every member of the organisation for all their hard work and dedication to Civil Defence.

Under the leadership of its new Chief Executive; its experienced Chairman and energetic Board, the Civil Defence organisation can look forward to an exciting and positive period ahead. I look forward to receiving the second Strategic Plan from the Board in the coming months and I wish the Board and all of the members of Civil Defence continued success in the future. It now gives me great pleasure now to unveil this magnificent new sculpture.

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