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Welcoming Remarks by the Minister for Defence Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., at the Ceremony to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Defence Forces’ Involvement in Peacekeeping

June 26th 2008 McKee Barracks, Dublin

Lord Mayor of Dublin, A Taoisigh, former Taoiseach (Mr Liam Cosgrave), Members of Oireachtas, Former Ministers, Secretaries-General, Chief of Staff, honoured Veterans, members of the Irish Defence Forces, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I want to welcome you all here to McKee Barracks and to thank An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen for agreeing to address this most important and historic ceremony marking fifty years of Irish peacekeeping.

I also want to say how pleased I am to see so many of the people who have built Ireland’s international reputation as the provider of the most professional and compassionate peacekeepers, here with us today.

From former Ministers and Chiefs of Staff to distinguished veterans and members of IUNVA, ONET, and ARCO, today is about marking what you and your colleagues have achieved for Ireland and for the global community.

As part of these 50th Anniversary commemoration An Post is launching a special commemorative stamp featuring a photo of the first five Defence Force Officers to deploy on a UN mission.

I am delighted to welcome Col Rory Henderson, who appears on the stamp, and also Mrs Elizabeth Coghlan and Mrs Patricia Lavelle whose late husbands Col Gerard Coghlan and Col Patrick Lavelle appear on the stamp.

I also want to welcome veterans from the first mission:
Major General Fergus O'Connell, Brig Gen Pat Dixon, Col Jim Fagan, Col Colm MacConchoille, Lt Col Tom Furlong and Capt Jim Moran.

This is an important day for Óglaigh na hÉireann and for Defence Forces families across the country. You have done your country proud. Today’s ceremony is about recognising that service and so, I am delighted to invite An Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., to address us.

Thank you.



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