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Speech by the Minister of State at the Department of Defence,
Mr Paul Kehoe, TD,
at the Commissioning Ceremony of the 87th Cadet Class
Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh Camp
08 March 2012

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

A Commissioning Ceremony is a very special occasion: it marks the graduation of the newest cohort of officers to serve in the Permanent Defence Force, and on this particular occasion, the Armed Forces of Malta; it records the end of each new officer’s induction education; and it is a day on which the military forces, the individual new officers, and their families can be proud of this achievement.

I want to welcome all of the family members, friends and guests, to this very special occasion for the members of the 87th Cadet Class both Irish and Maltese. I also wish to welcome Brigadier Martin Xuereb, Commander Armed Forces of Malta, who is attending the ceremony here today as part of an Official Visit to Ireland.

The Defence Forces and the Armed Forces of Malta have developed a very good working relationship, in terms of the provision of places on training courses in the Military College. Three Maltese Cadets trained and graduated with the 86th Cadet Class last March and today, three more Maltese Cadets just received their Certificates of Graduation from the Cadet School. A number of Maltese officers have graduated from other courses in the Military College and there are currently two officers from Malta attending courses in the College. I hope the Defence Forces and the Armed Forces of Malta can continue to build on and develop this positive initiative.

Each year, the Commissioning Ceremony marks the coming of age of a new generation of military leaders. You, the 87th 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.

The scrolls I have just presented to the Irish members of the class indicate that each of you is now a commissioned officer of Óglaigh na hÉireann. The solemn oath each of you took today, to be faithful to Ireland and loyal to the Constitution, marks you out 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 as Young Officers in your new units.

I would particularly like to congratulate the three class members from the Armed Forces of Malta and offer a very warm welcome to Ireland to the family members who are present. You and your families should be very proud of your achievement and I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to all of you for the commitment you are making to your country.

The scrolls presented to the Irish Cadets and the certificates of graduation presented to the Maltese young officers, show that you are graduates of the Cadet School, the Military College. The College has a proud tradition of training young officers going back to the induction of the 1st Cadet Class on 01 Feb 1928. I hope that you, the members of the 87th Cadet Class will maintain the bonds formed here in the Cadet School and that these bonds continue to develop in both a personal and professional context as your careers progress.

The current economic climate demands that we continue to achieve efficiencies in all parts of the public sector in order to deliver high quality public services. The Defence Forces continues to lead the way in terms of transformation and modernisation, and provides a model for public sector reform. The Government is conscious of the demands being made of the Defence Forces by the requirement for further restructuring of the Organisation but it is determined to do all that it can to protect the capacity of the Defence Organisation to operate effectively across all its assigned roles. The skills and talents you bring to the Officer Corps of the Defence Forces will be essential to its ongoing modernisation and its effectiveness.

Ireland continues its commitment to overseas peace support operations. The 106th Infantry Battalion has formed up and is training for deployment to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in May, for a six month tour of duty. This deployment will coincide with the deployment also of the Finnish Armed Forces and the formation of a joint Irish-Finnish Battalion in UNIFIL. In the past, both Finland and Ireland have worked together in a number of missions including UNIFIL. As young officers, I know it will be an ambition of yours to serve overseas. This will afford you the opportunity to further exercise the leadership and management skills you will continue to acquire over the coming years.

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. Your primary education and development was at the hands of your parents and later your teachers. They are to be complimented for having developed the excellent candidates who entered the Cadet School some fifteen months ago. 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 Jim O’Shea; the Senior NCO responsible for the class training, Company Sergeant Paul Fagan; 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 87th Cadet Class, for your essential support and encouragement which facilitated achievement of their ambition.

Finally, I would like to pay compliment to 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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