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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 90th Cadet Class,
Curragh Camp, 12 February 2015

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 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. 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 90th 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 Oath taken by you here today is all embracing in its scope and content. The Oath is the bedrock on which the Defence Forces has loyally served the State. It follows from the terms of the Oath that there can be no limitation in the matter of your loyalty to the Constitution and commitment to the service of the State. It obliges you to provide supportive leadership in seeking a similar commitment from those under your command.

You the members of the 90th Cadet Class are now graduates of the Cadet School, here at the Military College, which has a proud tradition of training young officers since 1928. The purpose of your Cadet training was to develop you into leaders of character and competence. The training you received was conducted in an environment of strict discipline, and was as mentally challenging as it was physically demanding. As newly commissioned officers you will not only be expected to be leaders in the Army but will also be expected to display the other key qualities of dedication, bravery and discipline – qualities that your training has instilled in you.

I know you will maintain the 90th Cadet Class bond formed here in the Cadet School and that that affinity will endure through military service and beyond. The training you have 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.

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 in overseas environments. 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 operations. You, the members of the 90th Cadet Class, are the future and will be important contributors to the ongoing modernisation and further development of the Defence Forces.

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 U.N. and the E.U. For over fifty years Irish peacekeepers have fulfilled their U.N. mandate with a uniquely Irish combination of professional excellence and unselfish humanity. The unique ability to combine the traditional peacekeeping duties with the provision of humanitarian support has become the hallmark of the Irish peacekeeper internationally. As newly commissioned officers, I know it will be a keen ambition of yours to follow in this proud tradition by serving overseas. Ireland is currently contributing 431 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. 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 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. It is 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.

The Defence Forces is a learning organisation, committed to developing its personnel. Focussing on life-long learning and development throughout a military career ensures that personnel are committed, capable and flexible. This means that they can respond to fast-changing, ever more complex operational environments in an efficient, effective and innovative way. Defence Forces personnel find themselves operating alongside an increasing array of sophisticated security partners and agencies.

Today is also a celebration of real achievement and marks the passing of a great milestone in the lives of these young officers. On behalf of Minister Coveney and myself I would like to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of all those who have moulded these young men and women into fine young officers over some fifteen months of training. In particular, I would like to pay tribute to the excellent work of the School Commandant of the Cadet School, Lieutenant Colonel Tom O’Callaghan; the Class Officer, Commandant Eugene Cooke; the Senior NCO responsible for the class training, Company Sergeant Stephen O’Neill; and all of their staff colleagues in the Cadet School.

The Commitment of the Cadet and the skill of the instructors in the Cadet School are important. But perhaps of 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 90th Cadet Class, for your essential support and encouragement which facilitated achievement of their ambition.

I would also like to address those Maltese Cadets on parade here today. I wish you all every continued success in your future military careers with the Armed Forces of Malta. As can be seen by the presence of the Maltese Cadets here today, our long and proud tradition of international peacekeeping is being 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 like to thank everyone connected with the organisation behind this afternoon's ceremony and to thank the Army Number 1 Band under the baton of Captain Fergal Carroll for their superb musical accompaniment.

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


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