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Speech by the Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea T.D. at the launch of ONE’s FUCHSIA fundraising campaign

Wednesday July 1st 2009

I am delighted to be here this morning to launch your FUCHSIA fundraising campaign. I want to thank Ollie O’Connor, your Chief Executive Officer for his kind invitation.

“Cuimhnímis” or “Let Us Remember” remains the constant motivation and theme for the excellent work undertaken by O.N.E. on behalf of ex-servicemen and women. This work has been carried out with enthusiasm and dedication for almost 60 years now. Your organisation exemplifies the crucial role of the independent voluntary sector in the provision of facilities and services in our society. The compassion and practical enthusiasm of your founders and core members has built a firm foundation for the organisation.

Your stated objective is to ensure the welfare of ex-servicemen and women by way of providing accommodation to the most vulnerable of these – those homeless, elderly or disabled members in need. Through your hard work and sustained efforts, O.N.E. now runs three homes for homeless ex-servicemen and women across the country.

The services you provide go well beyond a comfortable bed and three good meals a day. You also provide a welcoming environment of comradeship and shared experiences, which welcomes your residents to a natural home environment where they are assured of dignity and respect.

It is important to remember that your residents and clients exhibit a wide diversity in age.

For some, your residential services provide a stepping-stone and a platform of certainty during a period of personal difficulty in their lives. For older residents your organization provides a future of certainty, security and companionship as valued friends.

Your organization enjoys a growing body of membership not only throughout Ireland, but in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. The loyal and generous support of these ex-service men and women is matched by the support of very many of those currently serving in the Defence Forces. It is heartening to see a number of serving members and former members of the Defence Forces here today to lend their support to this worthy cause.

It is a measure of the commitment of your organisation that you are not content to stand still and have evolved and adapted to changing times and circumstances. Incorporation as a Limited Liability Company with Charitable Status in 2002 supports the promotion of your aims and objectives. I welcome your wish to extend your services to provide some assistance to former members who have accommodation, but who, for a variety of reasons live in difficult circumstances.

I am confident that in an ever changing environment we shall witness the further development of the inspirational work undertaken by the Organization in responding in a positive, and in many cases, life changing manner to the needs of our ex-service men and women.

I have been keen to support your work in a more practical and tangible way, for that reason I included a commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government introducing an annual subvention from my Department, and I am delighted that it was one of the first items in the Defence Programme to have been honoured.

I now want to encourage the ongoing discussions between O.N.E. and my Department on the presentation of existing services for former members in a more readily accessible manner.

Your Board’s initiative to adopt the FUCHSIA campaign will enable you to raise additional funds to support your ongoing work and ambitious plans for the future. The FUCHSIA is a very appropriate symbol. Its abundance in our rural landscape makes it a potent reminder of home to our troops serving overseas.

Its Irish name: ‘Deora De’ meaning ‘Gods Tears’ make it a poignant reminder of the circumstances in which some ex-members of the Defence Forces find themselves and whom the campaign is designed to assist.

I commend the FUCHSIA campaign and initiative and urge everyone to support the campaign by participation or contribution when approached. I would like to thank everyone that has been involved in the Organization over its many years, which has made a very tangible difference to the lives of our ex-service men and women who have had cause to avail of its services. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish one of your Directors, former General, Gerry McMahon a speedy recovery from his recent illness.

Finally, may I wish you every success in your fundraising endeavours.

END


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