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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 Naval Service Commissioning Ceremony - 5th September, 2013
It is a great pleasure to be present here today at Haulbowline to participate in a very important event for the Naval Service and in particular for the six young officers who have successfully completed their training. It is a very special day for Vivienne, Colm, Jason, Paul, David and Dean and I offer my warmest congratulations to you all.
I would also like to welcome the families and friends of those who are being commissioned; this is a proud day for you and your loved ones. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy Rear Admiral Steer on his visit to Ireland and to the Commissioning Ceremony here in Haulbowline today.
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 today, 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 an important milestone in the education and training of the 51st Naval Cadet Class. The programme commenced in September 2011 and we stand here today, 24 months later, with young leaders who through rigorous academic, practical and physical education and training, have been determined suitable for commissioning as Officers of the Naval Service.
Education and Training is very important in all walks of life. The Naval Service has developed into a knowledge institution where continuing learning forms an integral part of every member’s job description. Working as part of Cork Institute of Technology’s extended campus; the Naval Service has become an exemplar of Work Based Learning. The purpose of this training is to ensure that the Naval Service is equipped to meet the tasks assigned to it by Government.
The 51st Cadet Class is made up of young people from various backgrounds and experiences. Of the newly commissioned Officers, three joined the Naval Service as graduates from university, two as college undergraduates and one on completion of his Leaving Certificate.
This mix created a vibrant and fruitful dynamic amongst the group and will now serve to further add to the rich range of talents and experience currently held within the officer body and the men and women of the Irish Naval Service. As they now begin the first step of their journey as commissioned officers I wish them well in their future careers with the Naval Service.
I don’t think I need to remind anyone here today that we live in difficult and challenging economic times. What I can say is that during this period in our history the Defence Forces have not been found wanting in terms of contributing to the process of addressing the challenges we have and continue to face.
The considerable modernisation and efficiency achieved by the Defence Forces and the wider Defence Organisation is rightly held as a model for public sector reform. The Naval Service has played its part in this regard as it is a strategic partner in a number of third level institutions and innovative research networks including the National Maritime College of Ireland and the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster.
Given our ongoing budgetary situation, the acquisition of new equipment for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service is a matter that is kept under constant review and any such acquisitions must be made with a view to maintaining the capability of all roles assigned by Government to the Defence Forces.
I am delighted to see that preparations for the delivery of the first of two new ships for the Naval Service are advancing well with the first ship, the LE Samuel Beckett, due for delivery early next year and the second ship the LE James Joyce, a year later. These modern vessels will be a great asset to the Naval Service and combined with a continuous process of refurbishment and repair on the other vessels in the fleet, will ensure that the Naval Service continues to meet its required operational capability.
I understand that a considerable training effort by Naval Service personnel will be involved with the new ships programme to allow for a smooth entry of the two ships into operational service and that the Naval Service is ready to meet that challenge.
I know that the LE Emer is being withdrawn from operational service shortly in anticipation of the delivery and entry into service of LE Samuel Beckett. It would be remiss of me not to thank the current captain and crew and indeed all from the Naval Service who served on the ship over the last 30 years or more for the great service they and the ship have provided to the State in that time.
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.
As the principal sea-going agency of the state, the fundamental role of our Naval Service is to act as an instrument of sovereignty over Ireland’s maritime jurisdiction, which is an area 12 times larger than the island of Ireland. Our ships signal to everybody that we are committed to good governance in our oceans. They also serve as a warning to those who think about flouting the norms and principles of the Irish State and the wider international community. The Government is committed to continuing to support the Naval Service to ensure that it is capable of fulfilling the range of tasks assigned to it. To this end, besides the fleet replacement programme, good people are essential. In this regard I am delighted that a Cadetship competition was held recently to recruit a total of 6 Cadets and that we will shortly commence the process of inducting enlisted personnel.
Today is a celebration of real achievement and marks the passing of a great milestone in the lives of these new officers. I would like to pay tribute to the Naval College staff involved in preparing and training these cadets. They deserve a special mention for the care and dedication, which they brought to the task of developing and nurturing 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 they have done.
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.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day.
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