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Speech by the Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach and the Department of Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D.,
at the Commissioning Ceremony of the 89th Cadet Class,
Curragh Camp, 23 January 2014

Secretary General, Chief of Staff, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; I am delighted to be here in the Defence Forces Training Centre for this afternoon’s Commissioning Ceremony.

I would like to welcome the families and friends of those who are being commissioned today; this is a proud day for you and your loved ones. I would also like to acknowledge the presence here today of my Oireachtas colleagues and various other local representatives.

A Commissioning Ceremony is a very special occasion in that it marks the appointment of the newest cohort of officers to serve in the Permanent Defence Force. The Ceremony records the end of each new officer’s induction education; and it is a day on which, the military forces, the individual new officers, and their families, can proudly celebrate this achievement.

Today marks the coming of age of a new generation of military leaders. You, the 89th Cadet Class, are that new generation. You comprise a mixture of school leavers, third level undergraduates and graduates, all with a common focus, on careers as military officers.

I wish to offer my warmest congratulations to all of you for the commitment you are making to the State. All of you, together with your families and friends can be justifiably proud of your achievement.

The scrolls I have just presented on behalf of the President and the Government of Ireland 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 apart from every other profession. The training you have received over the last 15 months has equipped you with skills necessary to face the many and varied challenges you will encounter in the course of your military careers.

The members of the 89th Cadet Class are now graduates of the Cadet School, here at the Military College, which has a proud tradition of training young officers, and goes back to the induction of the 1st Cadet Class on 1 February 1928. The Defence Forces place great emphasis on espirit de corps, tradition and history, and rightly so. I know you will maintain the 89th Cadet Class bond formed here in the Cadet School and that affinity will endure through military service and beyond.

The Defence Forces continues to show that it has the ability to adapt in order to meet the needs of the State and it delivers quality outputs both at home and overseas. With a stabilised strength of 9,500 personnel, the Defence Forces provides an excellent example of ‘value for money’ with outputs and services being consistently delivered within the State and Internationally on important peacekeeping missions.

The variety of educational backgrounds, along with the skills, talents and achievements that you, the members of the 89th Cadet Class bring to the Officer Corps of the Defence Forces will be important factors in the ongoing modernisation and further development of the Defence Forces.
The Defence Forces continue to make a significant contribution to international peacekeeping through their participation in UN-led and UN authorised missions. Participation in overseas peacekeeping missions is a key element of Ireland’s foreign policy, and has been an important dimension in meeting Ireland’s international obligations as a member of the UN and the EU.

Ireland is currently contributing 412 Permanent Defence Force personnel to missions throughout the world, the largest contingents being the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights. As young officers, I know it will be a keen ambition of yours to serve overseas and I hope you will be afforded the opportunity to gain such important experience, in a relatively short period of time, on completion of the necessary courses of training.

Today, belongs to you, the new officers. You are charged with providing leadership and guidance to others, a responsibility, I have no doubt you will all discharge with excellence. 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 also a celebration of real achievement and marks the passing of a great milestone in the lives of these young officers. Your primary education and development was at the hands of your parents and later your teachers. They are to be complimented for having developed the excellent candidates who entered the Cadet School some fifteen months ago. The dedication and commitment of all those who have moulded these young men and women must be acknowledged.

On behalf of Minister Shatter and myself I would like to pay tribute to those responsible for the training in this military induction phase, to those who have moulded these cadets into military officers. In particular, I would like to pay tribute to the School Commandant of the Cadet School, Lieutenant Colonel Tom O’Callaghan; the Class Officer, Commandant Frank Flannery; the Senior NCO responsible for the class training, Company Sergeant John Keenan; and all of their staff colleagues in the Cadet School, for their excellent work.

As I have mentioned already, to successfully complete a cadetship, there is a requirement for motivation, dedication and perseverance on the part of the individual cadet and for skilled professional instructors in the Cadet School. But perhaps of almost equal importance, is the support and encouragement of family and friends. In this regard, I would also like to pay tribute to you the families and friends of the members of the 89th Cadet Class for your essential support and encouragement which facilitated achievement of their ambition.

To those Maltese Cadets on parade here today, I wish you every continued success in your future military career with the Armed Forces of Malta. As can be seen by the presence of the Maltese cadets here today, the Defence Forces and Ireland greatly value our bilateral relations and co-operation in peacekeeping and security in the international arena. Our long and proud tradition is maintained by the engagement of our Defence Forces in co-operating with international colleagues and it is a central aspect to our foreign policy which you all, as newly commissioned officers, will be asked to uphold and advance throughout your careers.

Finally, I would pay compliment to everyone involved in the arrangements for this ceremony, particularly the Army Number 1 Band, under the baton of Captain Fergal Carroll.

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


Ends


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