Christmas Wishes from Defence Forces COS Lt Gen Sean Clancy

Chief of Staff Lt Gen Seán Clancy Christmas Message To the Men and Women of Óglaigh na hÉireann

On behalf of the General Staff it is my privilege to extend season’s greetings to you the men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann, and in particular to those of you who will be spending Christmas away from your families due to service at home or overseas.

I also wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to you all for your work and dedication over the past year.

The Christmas season provides a good time to reflect upon the year gone by. Your support to the State during the COVID-19 pandemic through Operation Fortitude has been a source of great pride for our Organisation. I want to convey to you the appreciation and respect expressed to me by Government, our fellow state agencies and the public, for the committed and determined manner with which you have risen to the challenge posed by the pandemic. Your selflessness is a reflection of the enduring culture of Óglaigh na hÉireann and the values we all aspire to.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, you continue to conduct framework operations at home and overseas. Almost 1,700 of our members have served in 14 separate missions and in 13 different countries in the past twelve months. I am acutely aware that the challenge presented by overseas service has fallen heavier on you and your families due to the pandemic and quarantine restrictions. I thank you for your commitment and ask that you pass on my gratitude to your families who make a huge sacrifice so we can serve.

The Commission on the Defence Forces have continued their work throughout the year. The General Staff, the Defence Forces Sgt Major and I, have engaged with the Commission on your behalf to convey our level of ambition for the Defence Forces out to 2030 and beyond. I look forward to continued engagement with the Minister and Department in the New Year and beginning the process of implementing the Commission’s report, once it is approved by Government.

At this point, many of you will have received briefings and engaged with the Response Team which the General Staff and I deployed to reinforce the critical components of a positive and healthy organisational climate. I would like to thank you for your positive, thoughtful and informative engagement with the Team, all of which is shaping our future response. I am encouraged and remain determined that we will all work together to ensure that inappropriate behaviours are not repeated or tolerated in the Defence Forces today and into the future.

As we are all aware retention of our personnel continues to be an issue of concern for the Defence Forces. The General Staff and I, continue to work at developing the ‘Total Rewards’ package for you our members. We are actively engaging as a priority with the Department of Expenditure and Reform through the Department of Defence, in supporting the extension of the Mandatory Retirement Age of Post-1994 personnel. This will ensure the DF retains experienced, professional, and technically proficient personnel and most importantly provide certainty to you our members. We also remain committed to the pursuit of the single medical scheme for all members of Óglaigh na hÉireann.

I stated on taking up the appointment as Chief of Staff that one of my priorities is to ensure your continued development and wellbeing. I am encouraged that 2021, saw one of the largest ever cohorts of Defence Forces personnel of all ranks graduating from third level institutions. While our Organisation facilitates and encourages life-long learning, it is the commitment and dedication of inductees, students and instructors throughout Óglaigh na hÉireann who make this aspiration a reality. I am greatly humbled by your achievements.

Christmas can be a time we remember those who have gone before us. We remember our former colleagues, former members, their families and friends who have died in the past year. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this time. Go ndé ana Dia tró caire orthú.

In conclusion, I would like to thank every member of Óglaigh na hÉireann for your devotion to duty in 2021. I wish you and your families a safe and happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. Nollag shona daoibh go léir.

As published in the November/December 2021 issue of An Cosantóir: The Defence Forces Magazine