Defence Minister Remembers Loss Of Pilots

The Minister for Defence has today spoke of his "great sadness" at losing two Irish Air Corps pilots, as he releases his department's annual report.

Tony Killeen TD, today welcomed the publication of the Department of Defence and Defence Forces Annual Report for 2009 saying the year had presented the usual challenges to the Defence Forces but that unusual events at home and abroad allowed a broad spectrum of capabilities to be deployed.

Reflecting on events at home, the Minister remembered the two members of the air corps who died when their plane crashed in October 2009. Minister Killeen said: “A year of so much visible and tangible success was tinged with great sadness. The loss of two young Air Corps personnel, Captain Derek Furniss and Cadet David Jevens, who tragically lost their lives in the course of a flight training exercise, reminds us all of the many risks and dangers that can be associated with a military career.”

The Minister said that in 2009, almost 1900 members of the Defence Forces served overseas and continued to enhance the reputation of Irish troops in places such as Chad, Kosovo and Bosnia- Herzegovina. The Minister recalled that the valuable contribution made by the Defence Forces to international peacekeeping, for more than 50 years, was recognised by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon during his visit to Ireland in July 2009.

Mr Kileen added that many people would not remember 2009 fondly due to the floods that wreaked havoc across the State. The Minister paid tribute to the Defence Forces for the support they provided to the public at the request of local authorities and the HSE. The Minister said “the ‘can do’ attitude of the Defence Forces was put to the test by the many and varied tasks which they were requested to undertake during the time of crisis. The contribution of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps was welcomed and widely acknowledged”.

“The flexibility, adaptability and willingness to embrace change, with a focus on continuous improvement, is now firmly embedded within the Defence Organisation. This is a fitting tribute to the former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Dermot Earley, who passed away recently. His drive and determination played a key role in the continued modernisation and development of the Defence Forces,” he said.


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