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Speech by the Minister at the
Naval Service Commissioning Ceremony
on 2nd September, 2010

Assistant Secretary General, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations), Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to be present here today at Haulbowline at my first commissioning ceremony as Minister for Defence. Today we participate in a very important event for the Naval Service and in particular for the 5 young officers who have successfully completed their training. I want to offer my warmest congratulations to all of them. It is a very special day for Helen, Glenn, Michael, Jason, Mark and indeed their families.

The scrolls I have just presented indicate that each of you is now a commissioned officer of Óglaigh na hÉireann. The solemn oath you took a few moments ago, to be faithful to the Irish nation and to uphold the Constitution, marks you out from every other profession. I know that none of you have undertaken these

responsibilities lightly.

Today’s ceremony is the culmination of two years of hard work and dedication by these young people. Over the last two years they have undergone a rigorous training programme, covering both professional and academic subjects, and of course hands on experience on the high seas. The training they have received has equipped these young professionals with the skills necessary to face the many and varied challenges they will encounter in the course of their military careers. They have successfully achieved the high standards required of them in a wide variety of activities and I have no doubt that they will be at the helm of the development of the Naval Service long into the future.

The current difficult economic environment demands that we achieve efficiencies in all parts of the public sector in order to deliver high quality public services. We can be proud of the fact that the considerable modernisation and efficiency we have achieved together in the Defence Forces in recent years provides a model for public sector reform. It is vitally important that we protect and consolidate the important capability gains which have been delivered through the defence investment and modernisation programme of the past 10 years. To that end, it is my intention to ensure continued investment to protect the capacity of the Defence organisation to operate effectively across all roles.

At the commissioning ceremony last year, the cadets were informed of the progress being made on the Vessel Replacement Programme and the funding challenges that this presents.

As you will all be aware, my colleague the Minister for Finance and I were very pleased to be able to announce during our recent visit to the Naval Base that Government approval had been granted for the purchase of two new Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Naval Service.

The Government's decision is of course subject to the negotiations with the preferred bidder, Babcock Marine, reaching a satisfactory conclusion. Today, I am delighted to report that very good progress has been made since the announcement and I am confident that I will be in a position to formally place a contract within a number of weeks. In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to Captain Bob Scarrott and Lieutenant Commander Mick Malone from the Naval Service, and Brendan Coghlan and Cathal Duffy from the Department's Contracts Branch, and indeed other members of their respective teams and their predecessors who have steered this project through a long and sometimes difficult process.

It is indeed very heartening that such positive news for the Naval Service coincides with the commissioning today of this new class of cadets. These young officers can look forward to careers which will be served on these modern new vessels.

The Naval Service makes an important contribution across a wide variety of roles assigned by Government. The success of the Naval Service in the areas of fishery protection, search and rescue and the provision of aid to the civil power is clear for all to see. These high profile roles have the added benefit of conveying the importance of the Naval Service to the wider community. In this context, as Minister for Defence, I am committed to continuing the development of the Naval Service to ensure that it is capable of fulfilling the full range of tasks assigned to it by the Government. To this end there is a Cadetship competition currently being held in order to recruit a total of 30 Cadets, 6 of whom will join the Naval Service. It is anticipated that their training will commence in December of this year.

In concluding, I would like to pay tribute to the Naval College staff involved in preparing these cadets for officer duty. They deserve a special mention for the care and dedication, which they brought to the task of developing these young people for their future careers. The fruits of their labour stand before us today and they can be proud of the good work in which they were involved. Today however, belongs primarily to these new officers. They are charged with providing leadership and guidance to others, a responsibility, I have no doubt they will discharge with excellence. To their families and friends who are here today, you are all very welcome - this is a proud day for you and your loved ones. I hope that you will remember today with pride and with pleasure for many years to come.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of the day.


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