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Launch of Defence Forces Annual Report for the year 2004

McKee Barracks, Dublin.

Comments by the Minister for Defence, Willie O’Dea T.D.

Tuesday June 21st 2005

Chief of Staff, Secretary General, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am pleased to be here today at the launch of the Defence Forces Annual Report, 2004 and to receive a copy from the Chief of Staff.

2004 was yet another significant year of achievement for the Irish Defence Forces. As the Chief of Staff says in the Report’s opening statement: “2004 proved one of the busiest for the Defence Forces in recent times”

I know you had a briefing on the Report earlier, so I do not propose to go into in any great detail here. I would, however, draw your attention to a number of significant developments in 2004:
  • The Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act was passed. (The recruitment process for the first Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is underway.)
  • The Reserve Defence Force Review Implementation plan was launched.
  • The “Response to the Challenge of the Workplace” Report, chaired by Dr Eileen Doyle was also launched. Both I, and the Chief of Staff, remain committed to implementing the report by Dr. Doyle.

2004 also saw a number of major capital and expenditure projects come to fruition:
  • The 8 new Pilatus training aircraft came into service.
  • We took delivery of a further 25 Mowag Armoured Personnel Carriers bringing our total number of APCs to 65.
  • The new National Maritime College of Ireland came into operation.
  • The Barrack improvement programme continued with the completion of a number of major projects in 2004.

Between 1997 and the end of 2004 my Department has spent over a quarter of a billion euro on the barrack upgrade and maintenance programme.

I am pleased to see from the Report that the Defence Forces are not experiencing difficulties in recruiting quality entrants. A career in the Defence Forces continues to attract significant interest from both school leavers and graduates, with over 3,100 applications for the 659 places in 2004. There were 916 applications for 66 cadet places alone.
The Report sets out the considerable developments made in 2004. I am pleased to say that these are being further built on in 2005.
  • Just over a month ago I concluded an agreement with the Banks that will see them paying the full costs of army cash escort duties.
  • In January I signed contracts, worth over €60million, for the purchase of 6 new helicopters for the Air Corps.

There are other significant projects in the pipeline:
  • A tender competition for the acquisition of light tactical armoured vehicles is currently underway.
  • A tender competition is also in train to replace the FN 9 mm browning automatic pistol within the Defence Forces.
  • It is also proposed to procure a new lighter protective system consisting of body armour and helmet.

The role played by the Defence Forces on peace support missions overseas is a major source of pride to everyone. Last year almost 1,600 Defence Force personnel served on missions overseas. This year’s figure will be close to that.

This vital and important work continues into the future. I am pleased to announce today that, at this morning’s Cabinet meeting, the Government approved our continuing participation in the KFOR mission in Kosovo and the ISAF mission in Afghanistan.

I congratulate the Chief of Staff, Lt Gen. Sreenan, and the Head-Quarters staff for producing this excellent Report. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Chief of Staff and his deputies: Maj Gen Brennan and Maj Gen Earley, for the leadership they give to Óglaigh na hÉireann.

I thank you for this Annual Report and look forward to seeing it covered widely in the media in the next few days.

A copy of the Defence Forces Annual Report 2004 is available on the Irish Defence Forces Website or by clicking here

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