Lt General Seán Clancy, Defence Forces Chief of Staff
“On behalf of the Defence Forces it is my privilege to extend season’s greetings to you the men and women of Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (ONE) and your families.
In the season of goodwill, it is important for us all to give thanks and to take stock of where we are as we approach the end of the year. In reflecting on ONE, I am humbled to have witnessed the immense support you provide to the greater veteran community. I have seen first-hand your success with the expansion of services in 2023, particularly with two additional Veteran Support Officers and the 24/7 Mental Health Support Line. I also note your ambition to further expand the services that you offer across both homes and mental health in line with your Strategic Plan, ONE75. A highlight of my year was launching this year’s Fuchsia Appeal in Dublin in Brú na bhFiann in September. The energy on the day from you, our veterans, was invigorating. It was truly inspirational to meet so many committed members of ONE, all focused on the same goal – the selfless betterment of others. Through your efforts you strive to ensure that no Irish veteran is left behind, no matter the circumstances in which our veterans find themselves. I want to thank you for the hard work, dedication, and the example you have provided and to congratulate you on the expansion of your services throughout 2023. I look forward to witnessing the opening of your new homes in Cork, Limerick and Newbridge over the next year. In particular, I am delighted to support your sixth home in Limerick where the former Commanding Officer’s House, Sarsfield Barracks will be refurbished into a 5 bedroomed facility for homeless veterans in Limerick.
In November, An Tánaiste published the Detailed Implementation Plan providing a roadmap for the implementation of the Commission on the Defence Forces recommendations. This programme of transformation will be the biggest and most radical transformation of the Defence Forces since the Second World War. Achieving the goals committed to by Government in the plan will require a huge effort. However, our serving members are already beginning to see the benefits with the introduction of private healthcare for all ranks, the increases in both Military Service Allowance and Patrol Duty Allowance, and additional appointments and promotion opportunities to name but a few.
In our veterans, we see the origins and reflection of what’s best about the current members of Óglaigh na hÉireann. We see comradeship and our Defence Forces’ values in action. You provide leadership through example to the current generation of the Forces, while to those outside the Defence Forces you demonstrate and represent the best of our organisation and a life serving the State. I take immense pride in being the Chief of Staff of those who currently serve, but also for those who have served and have given so much to Óglaigh na hÉireann. It is you, our forbearers, who have passed down and instilled the values our organisation strives to live by. It is also important to acknowledge the very positive and professional aspects of our service that you our veterans have helped inculcate into our Forces since our establishment over a century ago. It is these positive aspects of our culture such as service and loyalty that have enabled the Defence Forces to perform at home and overseas throughout our history, and as recently demonstrated during OP PIANO (MV Matthew interdiction), and by our personnel serving in the Middle East in a time of conflict.
Christmas is a time to remember those who have gone before us, a time when we feel their loss most acutely. We remember those members of the Defence Forces veterans’ community who have passed during 2023. We also remember those serving members of Óglaigh na hÉireann who have gone to their eternal rest during the past year, including Pte Seán Rooney who died in such tragic circumstances in South Lebanon one year ago. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and comrades. Go ndéana Dia trócaire orthú.
As veterans you are more acutely aware of the sacrifices of service at this time. Our soldiers, sailors and aircrew continue to support the maintenance of peace in volatile regions, sacrificing time they could be spending with their families, in the pursuit of peace for others in their own homelands. Our veterans provide compassion, gratitude and an awareness that what our serving personnel are doing is special.
Finally, I want to thank you for your devotion and commitment to ensuring that those who need help the most are receiving the support they need. I wish you and your families a Happy Christmas and the best wishes for the New Year.
Nollaig shona daoibh go léir.”
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