Connect Dec 2016

Connect the newsletter of the Irish Defence Forces

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Your Defence Forces Newsletter Christmas Message to Members of the Defence Forces from Paul Kehoe, T.D., Minister with Responsibility for Defence 2016 O n my behalf and that of all my Government col- leagues, I am very pleased to wish all the members of the Defence Forces and your families a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. As Minister with Responsibility for Defence, I have had the privilege this year to see at firsthand the professionalism and dedication of members of the Defence Forces' as they carry out their duties at home and overseas. This year the country marked the Centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, and the Defence Forces played a central role in all of the State events ranging from the Flags for Schools initiative to the Easter Sunday State Commemoration at the GPO. The standard of military involvement in the Centenary Programme has been second to none, befitting such an im- portant anniversary in the history of our country. I want to thank all personnel across the ranks who put so much time and effort into ensuring that the military contribution to the State's Commemorative Programme was of the same excep- tionally high standards which we have come to expect from the Defence Forces. I am pleased that those serving in this important year will shortly be acknowledged by Government with the presentation of a commemorative medal. Abroad, Defence Forces personnel have continued the long-standing tradition of service in the cause of peace and 2016 saw deployments in the Golan Heights, Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea, Battlegroup Headquarters and a range of other missions. When Defence Forces Personnel serve abroad, they represent Ireland in a very visible and special way. I am very proud of how you carry out your roles in often difficult, dangerous and trying circumstances with the professional- ism and commitment which all the members of Óglaigh na hÉireann can be proud. I was very pleased to introduce the International Opera- tional Service Medal this year. The medal recognises the service of Defence Forces personnel who have been deployed on overseas missions by direction of the Government where no other mission medal has been awarded. It was very fitting that personnel involved in the humanitarian deployment of the Naval Service to the Mediterranean Sea numbered amongst the first recipients of this medal. At home, all three arms of the Defence Forces continued to carry out the many different roles assigned to them. The key role of Óglaigh na hÉireann is military defence of the State, but members are also involved in provision of aid to the civil power, assistance to the civil authorities in response to natu- ral or other disasters, fishery protection, the air ambulance service, explosive ordnance disposal and many other 'day-to- day' activities. Such taskings are no less important than those which attract media attention. I acknowledge the absolute commitment, reliability and professionalism of all members of Óglaigh na hÉireann who ensure that the Defence Forces can be relied upon on a 24 hours-a- day, 7 days-a-week and 365 days-a-year basis. Service in the Defence Forces is unlike any other career, and it can place significant burdens on work-life balance, espe- cially for personnel posted overseas or those rostered for duty during public holidays. This burden can be particularly felt at this important time of the year. While most of the country is sitting down with family and friends over the Christmas period, many men and women of the Defence Forces will find themselves on duty far from home. I want to express my personal appreciation for your continuing commitment to doing so. Were it not for the support and understanding of loved ones, such service commitments would be made even more difficult. I wish to thank the families of all our service men and women who provide such important support to the members of Óglaigh na hÉireann. It is no exaggeration to say that the support of family and friends of serving personnel is an important component that allows the Defence Forces carry out its functions. Féadfaidh aimsir na Nollag a bheith an-deacair dóibh siúd a chaill baill teaghlaigh i rith na bliana agus ba mhaith liom nóiméad a ghlacadh chun cuimhneamh ar phearsanra de chuid Óglaigh na hÉireann ar scor agus ar seirbhís a fuair bás in 2016, agus chun a rá lena dteaghlaigh go bhfuilim ag smaoineamh go mór orthu agus go bhfuilim ag guí ar a son. Tá súil agam go mbeidh sibh in ann méid áirithe sásamh a bhaint as an bhféile le linn na tréimhse saoire, agus geal- laim daoibh nach bhfuil dearmad déanta ar bhur ndaoine muinteartha. Christmas can also be a very difficult time for those who lost family, friends and colleagues during the year. The retired and serving personnel of Óglaigh na hÉireann who passed away in 2016 will be in my thoughts and I offer their families my sincerest prayers. I assure you that your loved ones are not forgotten. Guím sonas agus sábháilteacht do chomhaltaí na bhFórsaí Cosanta agus da muintir an Nollaig seo agus san Áthbhlian. Go raibh maith agaibh. I wish each and every member of the Defence Forces and their families a peaceful, happy and restful Christmas, with every success both personally and professionally for 2017. Paul Kehoe, T.D. Minister with Responsibility for Defence.

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