SPEECH BY THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, MR. MICHAEL SMITH, T.D.,
AT THE COMMISSIONING OF 5 NEW OFFICERS FOR THE NAVAL SERVICE
NAVAL BASE, HAULBOWLINE 12 SEPTEMBER 2002
Chief of Staff, Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here once again in Haulbowline for this most important day for the Naval Service. It has been a particular pleasure of mine in my time as Minister of Defence to be present at the commissioning of new officers. It is a day of immense significance in the Naval Service calendar and even more so for the five young men and women who have successfully completed their officer training.
The 40th Naval Cadet class carries on a legacy of service to the Irish State. Over the last 2 years these young officers have undergone a rigorous training programme covering both professional and academic subjects. Their endeavor has paid off and we are here today to formally acknowledge the personal achievement of these new young naval officers. Having successfully attained the high standards required of them, the officers of the 40th Cadet Class will now commence third level studies at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Cork Institute of Technology. On completion of their studies they will commence operational duties in the Naval Service and be at the helm of its development into the future.
The men and women here today of the 40th Naval Cadet class are becoming officers in a Service which has undergone exciting development. The most notable reflection of this has been the coming into service of two new ships at a cost of over €25 million each. These new ships - LE Róisín and LE Niamh - are a tremendous boost to the fleet and have enhanced the capability of the Naval Service in performing its many roles. It was my pleasure to have been present in Hong Kong earlier this year to see at first hand the tremendous work of the LE Niamh and her crew on behalf of the country.
As Minister for Defence, I am committed to continuing the enhancement of the Naval Service to fulfill its roles in fishery protection, marine search and rescue, security and many other support functions. Fishery protection remains by far the greatest single activity performed by the Naval Service on behalf of the State. Over 90% of patrol time was spent last year in the protection of this vital economic resource. This activity is reflected in the fact that in that period Naval Service ships spent 1,154 days on fishery patrol duties, sighting 2,387 vessels, boarding 1,384 and detaining 42. These statistics are again an improvement on the previous year and reflect a Naval Service which continues to heighten its levels of professionalism and skill.
I would like to take this opportunity to address myself to the important issue of the Treaty of Nice which the people will soon be called upon to adjudicate. It is no exaggeration to say that the Irish people are at a crossroads in their national life and have been given the solemn responsibility of determining the whole future of the EU. Seldom if ever, have we been faced with such an important choice which will have a direct effect on the lives of millions of people. Nice is about building a brighter future for all countries within the EU, while putting in place the mechanisms which will lead to its expansion and future prosperity.
These young officers who are receiving their commissions today are members of our Defence Forces which have a proud record in peacekeeping and humanitarian endeavors since 1958. A strengthened EU will enhance our ability to build on this work within a UN mandate. It has been my great fortune over the last few years while visiting our forces overseas to see their work at first hand. Tomorrow I travel to Eritrea where a contingent of 220 Irish personnel are on peace keeping duties with the UN. It is interesting to note, that the new officers who are being commissioned here today, were part of the crew on board the LE Niamh which supplied the contingent last Spring.
A rejection of the Treaty of Nice would fly in the face of our record of involvement in overseas humanitarian initiatives. Any talk that our neutrality is compromised by Nice is without foundation. Our involvement in the Common Foreign and Security Policy, which has already been approved by the Irish people under the Amsterdam Treaty, will enhance our ability to participate in humanitarian, peacekeeping and crisis management tasks. Defence Forces personnel will partake in the so called "Petersberg Tasks" on a case by case basis, under UN mandate and must be approved by the Government and the Oireachtas. This is fully consistent with our approach to overseas missions and our foreign policy traditions. We will not be entering a European defence arrangement, nor will we be part of a European army. Our traditional neutrality remains intact and as it should be, only the Irish people can change this through a referendum. The Seville Council Declarations further underline this and clearly set out that there is nothing in the Treaty of Nice or previous Treaties that poses a threat to Ireland's traditional policy of military neutrality.
Those who vociferously oppose the Treaty of Nice are throwing up a smoke screen of deception. Nice is not about neutrality, abortion, taxation or culture, it is about giving the countries of central and eastern Europe an opportunity to share in the Irish experience of prosperity within the EU, while providing exciting new opportunities for Irish business and workers with vast new markets opening up. The applicant countries look to Ireland as a role model. They are depending on us and to let them down would be unthinkable. If we have a vision for the future as a confident and mature Republic, then we must ratify the Treaty of Nice.
Before concluding I would like to pay tribute to the former Commodore of the Naval Service, John Kavanagh and wish him well in his retirement having carried out his duties as Flag Officer with such distinction at a time of major development of the Naval Service. I would also like to wish his successor Commodore Frank Lynch every success in leading the Naval Service in the exciting years ahead.
Today belongs primarily to these new officers who are about to embark on what I hope will be exciting and fulfilling careers. They are charged with providing leadership and guidance to others, a responsibility they will, I have no doubt discharge with excellence. To their families and friends who are here today, this is a proud day and one they will no doubt remember for many years.
Finally, I would like to again thank the Band of the 1st Southern Brigade, under the baton of Captain Liam Daly, who have added greatly to the enjoyment of this ceremony with their musical accompaniment.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of the day.
3 July 2006Speech by Willie O’Dea, T.D., Minister for Defence at the commissioning ceremony for the 81st Cadet Class.
29 May 2006Statement by the Minister for Defence on the International Day of the Peacekeeper 2006, 29/05/06
19 May 2006Statement by the Minister for Defence Adjournment Debate – Seanad Eireann, 17 MAY 2006.
4 May 2006Speech by Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., Minister for Defence at the review of 95th Infantry Battalion due to leave on peacekeeping duty with UNMIL, 04/05/06
6 April 2006Address by Minister Willie O'Dea at a 1916 monument unveiling ceremony. 06/04/06
4 November 2005Speech by Mr. Tom Kitt, T.D., Minister for State for Defence at the review of 94th Infantry Battalion Due to leave on peacekeeping duty with UNMILON
4 November 2005Speech by Minister for Defence Mr. Willie O’Dea TD At the opening of the EUROMIL conference South Court Hotel Limerick
5 October 2005Speech by Minister for Defence Mr. Willie O'Dea T.D.,
at the PDFORRA Annual Delegate Conference.
12 September 2002Commisioning ceremony for Naval Service cadets - 40th Class
25 April 2002Opening refurbished Headquarters Block, Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee
4 April 2002Launch of Report of External Advisory Committee on harassment, bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in the Defence Forces
21 March 2002Minister's speech to a Select Committee on the Defence Estimates for 2002
3 March 2002Opening of FCA Headquarters, Templemore
19 December 2001Opening NCO's Mess East, Curragh
22 November 2001Commissioning ceremony for Air Corps cadets - 20th Class
18 November 200175th anniversary of the Army Equitation School
15 November 2001Review of 1st Contingent UNMEE bound for Eritrea
8 November 2001Minister's address to RACO's 9th Annual Delegate Conference
25 October 2001Unveiling of memorial in Tibnin, South Lebanon
24 October 2001Statement to a Select Dáil Committee seeking approval for the despatch of a contingent to Eritrea
18 September 2001Minister's speech at the Commissioning Ceremony for L.E. Niamh
18 September 2001Tanaiste's speech at the Naming Ceremony for L.E. Niamh
17 September 2001Opening swimming pool/gymnasium in the Curragh
8 September 2001Minister's address to RDFRA's 8th Annual Delegate Conference
7 September 2001Review of 7th Contingent (UNTAET) bound for East Timor
24 July 2001Review of 5th Transport Company (KFOR) bound for Kosovo
2 July 2001Cadet commissioning ceremony - 76th Class
12 June 2001Minister's speech to a Select Committee on the Defence Estimates for 2001
22 May 2001Review of 6th Contingent (UNTAET) bound for East Timor
17 May 2001Adjournment Debate re Clancy Barracks
1 May 2001Seanad Adjournment Debate re Gormanston
9 April 2001Taoiseach's speech in Templemore at the review of troops bound for Lebanon
4 April 200124th Amendment to the Constitution (Treaty of Nice)
22 March 2001Opening new signals building in Cathal Brugha Barracks
23 January 2001Review of 5th Contingent (UNTAET) bound for East Timor
25 November 2000Launch of Report of the Ministerial Steering Group on Reserve Defence Force
20 November 2000Capabilities Commitment Conference, Brussels, 20th November 2000
15 November 2000Minister's address to RACO's 8th Annual Delegate Conference
10 November 2000Opening of Hanger No. 5, Casement Aerodrome
18 October 2000Review of 88th Infantry Battalion (UNIFIL) bound for Lebanon
11 October 2000Minister's address to PDFORRA's 9th Annual Delegate Conference
7 September 2000Naval cadet commissioning ceremony - 38th Class
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