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Speech by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence,
Mr. Alan Shatter, TD,
at the Commissioning Ceremony for the 86th Cadet Class
Military School, Curragh Camp 10 March 2011

Charge D’Affaires of the Republic of Malta, Secretary General, Chief of Staff, Ladies and Gentlemen; I am delighted to be in the Curragh Camp today for this afternoon’s Commissioning Ceremony; my first Commissioning Ceremony and my first official duty as Minister for Defence. It is a great honour for me to be appointed as a member of the Government and Minister for Defence. At a time of great challenge for our country and our people, I look forward to working with all of you in the Defence Organisation as we play our part in the great task of national renewal.

Each annual Commissioning Ceremony marks the coming of age of a new generation of leaders. The members of the 86th Cadet Class have a range of experience which will stand them in good stead: school leavers, third level graduates and those who have previously served with the Defence Forces. I offer my warmest congratulations to all of you for the commitment you are making to your country.

I would particularly like to congratulate the three class members present from the Armed Forces of Malta who today graduate from the Defence Forces Cadet School. It is a tribute to the Defence Forces Cadet School that the Armed Forces of Malta chose to train their personnel in Ireland. As members of the European Union, this type of practical co-operation among our forces bodes well for the future. We are also cooperating in other areas and now have a joint military training team from the Irish and Maltese Defence Forces deployed in Uganda as part of an EU operation, providing training for the armed forces of the Somali Transitional Federal Government.

I would also like to welcome the families and friends of those who are being commissioned and who are graduating, particularly those who have travelled long distances to be with us here today. You are all entitled to feel enormously proud of what has been achieved by these cadets in reaching this day.

The scrolls I have just presented 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 out from every other profession. The training you have all received over the last 15 months has equipped you with the skills necessary to face the many and varied challenges you will encounter in the course of your military careers. Having read the very insightful “Story of the 86th Cadet Class” in today’s Commissioning Booklet, I believe that you are more than equipped in this regard!

The skills and talents you bring to the Officer Corps of the Defence Forces will be essential to the ongoing modernisation and effectiveness of the Defence Forces, both at home and overseas.

The current economic environment demands that we achieve increased efficiencies and effectiveness in all parts of the public sector in order to deliver high quality public services. The considerable modernisation and efficiency achieved by the Defence Forces and the wider Defence Organisation in recent years has provided a model for public sector reform. You should be very proud of this fact. These efficiencies have been converted into significant investment in new equipment. This leaves the Defence Forces well placed to meet the challenges it faces now and in the future.


As regards participation by the Defence Forces in overseas peace support operations, last December the Government announced the deployment of some 440 Irish troops for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). This deployment is planned for later this year and will be undertaken in association with the Finnish Armed Forces, who also served as part of a joint contingent in the UN mission in Chad. Any deployment of members of the Defence Forces overseas will of course be subject to Dáil approval which will complete the Triple Lock mechanism of UN, Government and Dáil approval.

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 new officers. The dedication and commitment of those who have moulded these young men and women into officers must be acknowledged. In particular I would like to pay tribute to the Commandant of the Military College, Lieutenant Colonel Liam Condon, the Class Officer, Commandant Louis Flynn, Company Sergeant Paul Fagan and all of their colleagues in the Cadet School, for their excellent work.

Finally, I would like to compliment everyone involved in the arrangements for this ceremony, particularly the Army No. 1 Band under the baton of Captain Fergal Carroll.

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


ENDS


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Speech by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, TD, at the Commissioning Ceremony for the 86th Cadet Class Military School, Curragh Camp
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