Defence Forces rescue of migrants praised at 1916 commemoration ceremony

Naval Service’s role highlights how Ireland has taken its place among nations of the earth, ceremony hears


The part played by the Defence Forces in rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean has highlighted how Ireland has taken its place among the nations of the earth, a commemoration to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising heard at the weekend.

President of the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (ARCO), retired Naval Service commander Gerard O’Flynn told the event, organised by ARCO, that the men and women of 1916 had fought to enable Ireland to stand on the world stage as a free and independent country.

Mr O’Flynn noted how British ambassador, Dominic Chilcott, had commended the Defence Forces for the manner in which they had participated in the Easter Rising commemorations earlier this year when they were “at the centre of the affirmation of the statehood of Ireland”.

Quoting from retired army colleague, Comdt Eoin O Neachtain, Mr O’Flynn pointed out that the Defence Forces, by its participation in so many United Nations missions around the world, had shown clearly how Ireland is “actively working for international peace and security”.

The involvement of the Naval Service in Operation Pontus in the Mediterranean where Irish ships have rescued over 13,000 migrants in the past year and a half was just one illustration of Ireland’s membership of the world community of nations, he said.

Mr O’Flynn was speaking at the ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance which was attended by among others, ARCO members from the 39th and 40th Cadet Class who marched in the 1966 Easter Parade which was reviewed outside the GPO by veterans of the Rising.

Member of the 39th Cadet Class also provided the guard of honour at the formal opening of the Garden of Remembrance by president Eamon De Valera, the senior surviving Commandant of the Irish Volunteers from the Easter Rising, on Easter Monday 1966.

The Garden of Remembrance is located in the former Rotunda Gardens in Parnell Square and was where the Irish Volunteers were founded by Eoin MacNeill on November 25th, 1913. Several leaders of the Easter Rising were also held there overnight before being taken to Kilmainham Gaol.

The ARCO organised ceremony was attended by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Councillor Brendan Carr, Minister with Responsibility for Defence Mr Paul Kehoe and the deputy chief of staff of the Defence Forces Major General Kieran Brennan.

Following the laying of a wreath by Mr O’Flynn, a minute of silent reflection was observed, followed by the rendering of the Last Post, the raising of the Irish Flag to full mast, the rendering of Reveille and the playing of the national anthem.

Col Con McNamara (Retd)acted as master of ceremonies.

The ceremony included the reading by Lt Col Maurice Kealy (Retd), 40th Cadet Class, Lt Lorcan O’Rourke (Retd) 39th Cadet Class and Lt Col AJ O’Donovan (Retd) 39th Cadet Class of a number of poems including one by Patrick Pearse.