Speech by Mr. Tom Kitt, T.D., Minister for State for Defence at the review of 94th Infantry Battalion Due to leave on peacekeeping duty with UNMILON
McKee Barracks Dublin 3 November 2005
|Secretary-General, Chief of Staff, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and members of the 94th Infantry Battalion, it is a great pleasure for me to be here this afternoon to review the personnel from the Eastern Brigade who will shortly be travelling to Liberia to participate in the UNMIL peacekeeping mission. |
I would first like to apologise on behalf of my colleague, Minister Willie O’Dea who, unfortunately, is unable to be here this afternoon due to his Dáil commitments. He is disappointed to have missed this Review, all the more so because his proposed visit to Liberia next week has had to be postponed. He has asked me to say that he fully intends to reschedule his visit to our UNMIL forces as soon as he can and is looking forward to meeting the members of the 94th battalion in the field, early next year.
As Minister for Overseas Development, I visited Liberia on two occasions. In October 2003, I attended the Presidential Inauguration of the Transitional National Government and I returned in March 2004 when I visited Camp Clara and witnessed first hand the invaluable contribution that the Irish Defence Forces are making in the region.
Over the past two years, Ireland has contributed, in a substantive way, to bringing stability to a key region of Africa. We have worked to bring peace, and create respect for human rights and the rule of law and have helped to ensure the re-establishment of civil society in the region. Our Forces were heavily involved in the UN's successful Disarmament, Demobilization, and Re-integration programme that led to over 100,000 fighters turning in their weapons. As the country has become safer, the trickle of returning refugees has become a broad stream as, across the whole country, displaced families are taking the opportunity to return home.
Three weeks ago, the global spotlight shone again on Liberia. This time, happily, it wasn’t because of bad news, as had been the case so often in the past - but for a good news story – the successful completion of free and fair Liberian elections. These elections marked the return of Liberia to a constitutional democracy after 14 years of civil war. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, along with other world leaders congratulated the people of Liberia for this accomplishment. As the Presidential election did not produce an outright winner, a run-off between the two leading candidates - Ms Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Mr George Weah - will be necessary. The second round of voting is due to take place next Tuesday.
The successful conduct of fair and free elections is an indication of the substantial progress that has occurred in the country since the beginning of UNMIL two years ago. But as the country moves towards the installation of its new, democratically elected government in January 2006, we must remember that the peace process still faces many challenges. These include completion of the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants, reconstruction of the army and police and strengthening of the institutions responsible for the rule of law.
Recognising the importance of guaranteeing the security situation in Liberia in the coming months, on 19 September 2005 the UN Security Council extended the mandate of UNMIL until 31 March 2006. Dependent on the political and security situation in Liberia at that time, is hoped that the Secretary- General of the UN may be able to bring recommendations to the Security Council on a downsizing plan for UNMIL.
Of course Liberia is just the latest in a long list of countries to have benefited from our participation in UN peacekeeping missions. For close to half a century, the Irish Defence Forces have never hesitated to move into some of the world's most dangerous trouble spots. Regrettably, as we have learned only too well, peacekeeping missions are not without their dangers. This was brought home to us in November 2003 with the tragic death of Sgt. Derek Mooney in a road accident in Liberia.
The safety of Irish personnel serving overseas is always of paramount concern to us. All Defence Forces personnel serving on overseas missions are highly trained and equipped with the most modern and effective equipment available. But we are mindful of the dangers you may face in your role as peacekeepers. You will be in all our thoughts and prayers throughout your tour of duty in Liberia.
As all of you will know family support is of vital importance to the success of all overseas missions. For that reason, I am delighted to see that so many families and friends of the personnel heading overseas have come here today to bid you farewell and wish you a safe return home.
Finally, I would like to wish the Contingent Commander, Lt. Col. J. J. O’Reilly and all of the members of the 94th Infantry Battalion a safe trip and a peaceful and successful mission.
Go dté sibh go léir slán.
Go raibh maith agaibh go leir.
3 July 2006Speech by Willie O’Dea, T.D., Minister for Defence at the commissioning ceremony for the 81st Cadet Class.
29 May 2006Statement by the Minister for Defence on the International Day of the Peacekeeper 2006, 29/05/06
19 May 2006Statement by the Minister for Defence Adjournment Debate – Seanad Eireann, 17 MAY 2006.
4 May 2006Speech by Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., Minister for Defence at the review of 95th Infantry Battalion due to leave on peacekeeping duty with UNMIL, 04/05/06
6 April 2006Address by Minister Willie O'Dea at a 1916 monument unveiling ceremony. 06/04/06
4 November 2005Speech by Mr. Tom Kitt, T.D., Minister for State for Defence at the review of 94th Infantry Battalion Due to leave on peacekeeping duty with UNMILON
4 November 2005Speech by Minister for Defence Mr. Willie O’Dea TD At the opening of the EUROMIL conference South Court Hotel Limerick
5 October 2005Speech by Minister for Defence Mr. Willie O'Dea T.D.,
at the PDFORRA Annual Delegate Conference.
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3 March 2002Opening of FCA Headquarters, Templemore
19 December 2001Opening NCO's Mess East, Curragh
22 November 2001Commissioning ceremony for Air Corps cadets - 20th Class
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24 October 2001Statement to a Select Dáil Committee seeking approval for the despatch of a contingent to Eritrea
18 September 2001Tanaiste's speech at the Naming Ceremony for L.E. Niamh
18 September 2001Minister's speech at the Commissioning Ceremony for L.E. Niamh
17 September 2001Opening swimming pool/gymnasium in the Curragh
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7 September 2001Review of 7th Contingent (UNTAET) bound for East Timor
24 July 2001Review of 5th Transport Company (KFOR) bound for Kosovo
2 July 2001Cadet commissioning ceremony - 76th Class
12 June 2001Minister's speech to a Select Committee on the Defence Estimates for 2001
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9 April 2001Taoiseach's speech in Templemore at the review of troops bound for Lebanon
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22 March 2001Opening new signals building in Cathal Brugha Barracks
23 January 2001Review of 5th Contingent (UNTAET) bound for East Timor
25 November 2000Launch of Report of the Ministerial Steering Group on Reserve Defence Force
20 November 2000Capabilities Commitment Conference, Brussels, 20th November 2000
15 November 2000Minister's address to RACO's 8th Annual Delegate Conference
10 November 2000Opening of Hanger No. 5, Casement Aerodrome
18 October 2000Review of 88th Infantry Battalion (UNIFIL) bound for Lebanon
11 October 2000Minister's address to PDFORRA's 9th Annual Delegate Conference
7 September 2000Naval cadet commissioning ceremony - 38th Class
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