The Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe, T.D.,attended the 5th annual Defence Forces’ Veterans Day in the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin. This event was organised by the Defence Forces to acknowledge the contribution that former servicemen and women have provided to the State.
In recognising this service, the Minister stated that
“I extend a very special welcome to former servicemen and women of the Defence Forces. Today is your day – a day in which the Defence Forces acknowledges your past service both at home and around the world. “
The Minister went on to say “This is a very special year for the Defence Forces as it marks significant anniversaries in relation to Ireland’s UN peacekeeping role – it is the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s first participation in a UN peacekeeping mission and it is the 40th anniversary of our first deployment to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.”
He added that “for 60 years now the men and women from the Irish Defence Forces have contributed to the cause of peace all around the world in places like Lebanon, the Congo, the Golan Heights, Chad, Liberia, East Timor and Syria serving with honour and distinction. Today, Irish troops are deployed in UN, EU and NATO led missions in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Currently, there are almost 640 members of the Permanent Defence Force serving in 9 overseas missions, including UNIFIL, UNDOF and Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea”.
The Minister also acknowledged that “the commitment, service and loyalty by members of the Defence Forces while on overseas service has contributed to the high regard in which Ireland is held within the international community.” He commended members of the Defence Forces, whether serving or retired, for that commitment and thanked them, their families and loved ones for the inevitable sacrifices that this has involved.
Minister Kehoe concluded by remembering “the military personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace. Many of you here today will remember lost friends and comrades, our soldiers, who did not come home. We will not forget them.”