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Your Excellencies, Secretary General, Deputy-Chief of Staff, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased and honoured to be here this afternoon to launch this important historical publication “The Irish Brigades 1685 –2006”, which I warmly welcome as Minister for Defence.

Since it was established in June 2000 the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust has promoted the study and commemoration of Irish men and women who have served in military forces across the globe. Great credit is due to the Trust, which has used its limited resources to encourage an all-Ireland approach to military heritage by promoting a greater awareness and appreciation of that heritage.

To date the Trust has been active in supporting the opening of the Soldiers and Chiefs military exhibition here in Collins Barracks and in promoting cross border and international contacts with the Irish military Diaspora. Its many international contacts have been vital in ensuring important artefacts have been donated to the military exhibition here from various parts of the world.

The Trust has recognised the growing interest in Ireland’s military Diaspora in Europe and elsewhere. Students, researchers, historians and members of the public have frequently found it difficult to ascertain the exact location of individual Irish military formations. To resolve this problem the Trust commissioned Dr. David Murphy to research this single volume gazetteer “The Irish Brigades 1685 – 2006” to encompass the histories of all Irish regiments regardless of which country they served. Dr Murphy currently lectures in Trinity College and has, since 2006, been involved in defence studies programmes at the Irish Military College. He is to be congratulated on this impressive publication.

Over the past three years I have witnessed at first-hand the tremendous work our Defence Forces perform at home and overseas. Last September, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1778 establishing a multi-dimensional UN mission in Chad and in the Central African Republic. This mission is specifically mandated to provide security and protection for refugees and displaced persons arising from the terrible conflict in Darfur.

I hope to shortly bring forward detailed proposals to Government with a view to seeking the approval of Dáil Éireann for the despatch of a contingent to this mission. Subject to a risk assessment, force protection and environmental assessment I would anticipate that the Defence Forces contribution would be substantial, probably in the region of 300 – 350.

Participation in this operation will be personally demanding for the members of the Defence Forces and their families, but I have no doubt that they will meet this challenge in the professional manner that is their hallmark.

As you are no doubt aware, Ireland was asked to provide the Operations Commander for the Chad mission. Lt. Gen Pat Nash has now has taken up the position of Operation Commander at the EU Operational Headquarters in Paris. This is a prestigious appointment that reflects positively on both General Nash’s experience and Ireland’s reputation in the provision of peace support operations.

In conclusion, may I congratulate the Members of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust for their initiative and vision in commissioning this publication and may I again pay tribute to Dr David Murphy for providing this comprehensive guide. It will be a most valuable asset for researchers, historians and general readers alike.

Thank you very much.

ENDS


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