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Speech by the Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., at the Naval Service Commissioning Ceremony
on 6th September, 2012

Deputy Chief of Staff, Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Director Spain, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be present here today at Haulbowline to participate in a very important event for the Naval Service and in particular for the seven young officers who have successfully completed their training. It is a very special day for Marcus, Cian, Richard, Sean, Paul, Conor and John and I offer my warmest congratulations to you all.

I would also like to welcome the families and friends of those who are being commissioned; this is a proud day for you and your loved ones.

The scrolls I have just presented indicate that each of you is now a commissioned officer of Óglaigh na hÉireann. The solemn oath you took today, to be faithful to the Irish nation and to uphold the Constitution, marks you out from every other profession. I know that none of you have undertaken these responsibilities lightly.

Today’s ceremony is an important milestone in the education and training of the 50th Naval Cadet Class. The programme commenced in September 2010 and we stand here today, 24 months later, with young leaders who through rigorous academic, practical and physical education and training, have been determined suitable for commissioning as Officers of the Naval Service.

Education and Training is very important in all walks of life. The Naval Service is determined to become a knowledge institution where reflection forms an integral part of every member’s job description. Working as part of Cork Institute of Technology’s extended campus, the Naval Service has become an exemplar of Work Based Learning. The purpose of this training is to ensure that the Naval Service is equipped to meet the needs of Government and society.

The 50th Cadet Class is made up of young men from various backgrounds and experiences. Of the newly commissioned Officer’s, three joined the Naval Service as graduates from university, one as a qualified carpenter and joiner and three on completion of their leaving certificate at secondary school.

This mix created a vibrant and fruitful dynamic amongst the group and will now serve to further add to the rich range of talents and experience currently held within the officer body and the men and women of the Irish Naval Service. As they now begin the first step of their journey as commissioned officers I wish them well in their future careers with the Naval Service.

I don’t think I need to remind anyone here today that we live in difficult and challenging economic times. What I can say is that during this period in our history the Defence Forces have not been found wanting in terms of contributing to the process of addressing the challenges we have and continue to face.

The considerable modernisation and efficiency achieved by the Defence Forces and the wider Defence Organisation is rightly held as a model for public sector reform. The Naval Service has played its part in this regard. Across the Defence Forces the efficiencies achieved have been converted into significant investment in new equipment. In this respect the Naval Service ship replacement programme will see two new ships in service in the near future. Delivery of the first is programmed for early 2014 followed by the second in 2015. This ship replacement programme is integral to the future of the Naval Service. The new ships will replace two of the older Naval Service vessels, which will be withdrawn from operational service. The acquisition of these modern vessels, combined with a continuous process of refurbishment and repair of the remainder of the fleet, will ensure that the operational capability of the Naval Service is maintained and up to date.

The Naval Service makes an important contribution across a wide variety of roles assigned by Government. The success of the Naval Service in the areas of fishery protection, search and rescue and the provision of aid to the civil power, in particular drug interdiction, is clear for all to see. These high profile roles have the added benefit of conveying the importance of the Naval Service to the wider community.

The fundamental role of our Naval Service is to act as an instrument of sovereignty in the waters where the Irish State has jurisdiction or an interest. Our ships signal to everybody that we are committed to good governance in our oceans. They also serve as a warning to those who think about flouting the norms and principles of the Irish State and the wider international community. The Government is committed to continuing to support the Naval Service to ensure that it is capable of fulfilling the range of tasks assigned to it. To this end, besides the fleet replacement programme, good people are essential. In this regard I am delighted that a Cadetship competition was held recently to recruit a total of 11 Cadets and that we will shortly commence the process of inducting 120 enlisted personnel.

Today is a celebration of real achievement and marks the passing of a great milestone in the lives of these new officers. I would like to pay tribute to the Naval College staff involved in preparing these cadets for officer duty. They deserve a special mention for the care and dedication, which they brought to the task of developing and nurturing these young people for their future careers. The fruits of their labour stand before us today and they can be proud of the good work they have done.

Today, however, belongs primarily to these new officers. They are charged with providing leadership and guidance to others, a responsibility, I have no doubt they will discharge with excellence.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day.

Ends.


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