Defence Forces next chief of staff to be drawn from Naval Service

Legislation passed to facilitate promotion Rear Adm Mark Mellett

Minister  for Defence Simon Coveney:  thanked Lieut Gen Conor O’Boyle   for “his distinguished service and important contribution” as chief of staff. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney: thanked Lieut Gen Conor O’Boyle for “his distinguished service and important contribution” as chief of staff. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Legislation has been passed to facilitate the promotion of a Naval Service officer, for the first time, to the rank of chief of staff of the Defence Forces. Rear Adm Mark Mellett takes over as chief of staff in September on the retirement of Lieut Gen Conor O’Boyle.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said traditionally the chief of staff had assumed the rank of lieutenant general, and the rank of vice admiral is the Naval Service equivalent. Mr Coveney and other TDs paid tribute to Lieut Gen O’Boyle. The Minister thanked him for “his distinguished service and important contribution” as chief of staff. He congratulated Rear Adm Mellett on his appointment to his “new and challenging role” and noted that he would be taking office at the same time as the publication and launch of a new White Paper.

Fianna Fáil defence spokesman Seán Ó Fearghaíl said that while the Minister fixed the forces’ strength at 9,500, it was in reality closer to 9,000 – and he believed it should be 10,500.

Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín said that when Rear Adm Mellett was promoted to deputy chief of staff, it was the first time the three military wings of the Army, the Naval Service and Air Corps held the three top jobs. This was important, he said.

Independent TD Clare Daly said that when facilitating a promotion at the top, the same consideration should be given to the promotion “of those in the middle and ordinary ranks” because officers were now filling ranks previously held by noncommissioned officers.

Independent Denis Naughten said all soldiers in Athlone, Dundalk and Co Donegal had to relocate to Dublin once a month to carry out duties, at an extra cost of €200,000 a year and days off in lieu for personnel.