SPEAKING NOTES FOR THE TÁNAISTE
AND MINISTER FOR ENTERPRISE, TRADE AND EMPLOYMENT,
MS. MARY HARNEY, T.D.,
AT THE NAMING CEREMONY FOR L.E. NIAMH
ON TUESDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER 2001
Minister for Defence, Chief of Staff, Secretary General of the Department of Defence, Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Representatives of Appledore Shipbuilders, Dáil Deputies, Reverend Father(s), Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be in Cork this afternoon for what is an important day in the history of the Naval Service.
L.E. Niamh is a modern, state of the art, Naval patrol ship fitted out to the highest specification. She is a sister ship of the L.E. Róisín which was delivered in 1999 and both ships are a credit to their designers and builders. L.E. Niamh will be a tremendous asset for the Naval Service and I have been told that her captain, Lt. Commander Gerry O'Flynn, and the crew are extremely satisfied with her performance since her arrival in Haulbowline in the middle of July. She has already been on fishery patrol duty and has detected 66 vessels, boarded 25 vessels and issued warnings to 4 vessels. She was also involved in a fire fighting incident a few weeks ago when a fire threatened the lives of a crew on a local fishing trawler off the south coast.
The naming of a new Naval Service ship is something that has traditionally been decided by the Minister for Defence of the day. However, I want to compliment Minister Smith for breaking with tradition last year and establishing a competition, confined to secondary school students, to select a name for the new ship. The competition required students to propose a name from Celtic mythology and Irish history for the new ship. Students were required, in an essay of about 500 words, to show why the name was appropriate and explain its connection to Irish/Celtic mythology, legend or ancient/mediaeval Irish history.
I understand that the competition attracted a lot of interest and helped raise awareness amongst young people of the role of the Naval Service and, indeed, the Defence Forces generally. It was also hoped that by researching a project such as this, students would develop a keener interest in history, a subject which has not been enjoying great popularity of late.
I am delighted that the winner of the competition, Michael Kearney from Oranmore in Galway and the two runners up, Ross Casey from Clondalkin in Dublin and Niamh Higgins from Maynooth in Co. Kildare, and family members, are able to be present with us here today. I believe Michael was on board L.E. Niamh recently when she was docked in Galway. That visit means that he has been on board every one of the current fleet of eight Naval Service ships and this is an indication of his genuine interest in this area. Congratulations Michael.
The Naval Service has a number of roles - it asserts the integrity of our territorial waters, it protects both the waters of the country and the European Union from illegal fishing, it provides a critical search and rescue service and it has played its part in the interdiction of illegal drugs around our coastline. Its capacity to continue to do so has been significantly enhanced by L.E. Niamh entering service and beginning to assert itself as a major asset in its maritime surveillance role.
I want to thank the Band of the Southern Brigade under the baton of Captain Liam Daly for the wonderful music which added so much to the sense of occasion. Finally, to the Captain and crew of L.E. Niamh, I extend my very best wishes for a happy and successful ship and plain sailing.
It now gives me great pleasure to officially name this ship the L.E. Niamh.