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Speech by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence
Mr Alan Shatter, T.D.,
at the
Commissioning Ceremony of the 88th Cadet Class
Defence Forces Training Centre,
Curragh Camp
25 January 2013

Secretary General, Chief of Staff, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; I am delighted to be here in the Defence Forces Training Centre for this afternoon’s Commissioning Ceremony.

I want to welcome all of the family members, friends and guests, to this very special occasion for the members of the 88th Cadet Class. I would also like to acknowledge the presence of my Oireachtas colleagues, Martin Heydon and Jack Wall, along with the Mayor of Kildare County Council, Michael Nolan, and his fellow Councillors.

A Commissioning Ceremony is a very special occasion for those of us gathered here today: it marks the appointment of the newest cohort of officers to serve in the Permanent Defence Force; it records the end of each new officer’s induction education; and it is a day on which the Defence Forces, the individual new officers, and their families can be proud of this achievement.
A Commissioning Ceremony marks the coming of age of a new generation of military leaders. You, the 88th Cadet Class, are that new generation. You comprise a mixture of school leavers, third level undergraduates and graduates, all with a common focus, on careers as military officers.

I wish to offer my warmest congratulations to all of you for the commitment you are making to your country. All of you, together with your families and friends can be justifiably proud of your achievement.

The scrolls I have just presented on behalf of the President and the Government of Ireland indicate that each of you is now a commissioned officer of Óglaigh na hÉireann. The solemn oath each of you took a few moments ago, to be faithful to Ireland and loyal to the Constitution, marks you apart from every other profession. The training you have received over the last 15 months has equipped you with skills necessary to face the many and varied challenges you will encounter in the course of your military careers.

The 19 members of the 88th Cadet Class are now graduates of the Cadet School, Military College, which has a proud tradition of training young officers, and goes back to the induction of the 1st Cadet Class on 01 Feb 1928. The Defence Forces place great emphasis on espirit de corps, tradition and history, and rightly so. I know you will maintain the 88th Cadet Class bond formed here in the Cadet School and that that affinity will endure through military service and beyond.

The 88th Cadet Class join the commissioned ranks of the Defence Forces at a time when the organisation is again undergoing very significant change in terms of the move to a 2 Brigade structure. This difficult task of organisational change has been successfully delivered within a very demanding timeframe.

The Defence Forces continues to show that it has the ability to adapt in order to meet the needs of the State and it delivers quality outputs both at home and in overseas environments. With a stabilised strength of 9,500 personnel, the Defence Forces provides an excellent example of ‘value for money’ with outputs and services being consistently delivered within the State and Internationally on important peacekeeping operations. The skills, talents and variety of educational backgrounds and achievements that you, the members of the 88th Cadet Class bring to the Officer Corps of the Defence Forces will be important contributors to the ongoing modernisation and further development of the Defence Forces.

During the next six months, Ireland holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. 2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of Ireland’s accession to the old European Economic Community (EEC). This is the seventh time that Ireland has had the privilege of holding the EU Presidency. However, much has changed since our last Presidency in 2004. Ireland looks forward to working closely with the European External Action Service in developing and enhancing the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy.

The key priorities in the Defence area arising during our presidency will include preparations for the European Council in December 2013, continued development of CSDP and the EU’s Comprehensive Approach to crisis management. We will encourage support for current and future CSDP peace support operations. I am delighted that Ireland has led the EU Training Mission in Somalia. We will also work to enhance EU/UN Relations, in particular, through EU engagement and participation in UN Peacekeeping.

The Defence Forces continue to make a significant contribution to international peacekeeping through their participation in UN-led and UN authorised missions. Participation in overseas peacekeeping missions is a key element of Ireland’s foreign policy and has been an important dimension in meeting Ireland’s international obligations as a member of the UN and the EU.

Notwithstanding the difficult economic environment and the reduced resources available, the Government is committed to continue Ireland’s participation in peacekeeping operations, reflecting the Government’s continued commitment to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the ongoing development of the Defence Forces.

As officers of the Defence Forces, each of you has chosen a very challenging and demanding career; but one that is also very fulfilling and rewarding. I earnestly hope that you all will enjoy the many positive and enjoyable aspects of military life. Foremost amongst these are the comradeship, the challenges and the very high level of job satisfaction that comes from leading and serving others.

Today is a celebration of real achievement and marks the passing of a great milestone in the lives of these young officers. The dedication and commitment of all those who have moulded these young men and women must be acknowledged.

I would like to pay tribute to those responsible for the training in this military induction phase, to those who have now moulded these cadets into military officers: in particular, the School Commandant of the Cadet School, Lieutenant Colonel Liam Condon: the Class Officer, Commandant Canice Brennan; the Senior NCO responsible for the class training, Company Sergeant John Keenan; and all of their staff colleagues in the Cadet School, for their excellent work.

To successfully complete a cadetship there is a requirement for motivation, dedication and perseverance on the part of the individual cadet; for skilled professional instructors in the Cadet School; and for the support and encouragement of family and friends. In this regard, I would also like to pay tribute to you the families and friends of the members of the 88th Cadet Class for your essential support and encouragement which facilitated achievement of their ambition.

Finally, I would compliment everyone involved in the arrangements for this ceremony, particularly the Army Number 1 Band, under the baton of Captain Declan Whitston.

Thank you all very much and I hope you enjoy the remainder of this very special day.


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