'Distinguished' Army chief plans to retire
THE chief of staff of the Defence Forces will confirm his retirement shortly, it emerged as he was decorated for distinguished service.
Lieutenant General Dermot Earley (62) received the medal from Taoiseach Brian Cowen during a special ceremony at the Curragh in Co Kildare last week. The award is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a member of the military.
Lt Gen Earley has now indicated his intention to retire from the Defence Forces on a date to be announced in the coming weeks. He has been suffering from a debilitating illness for months and is not due to retire until spring.
Medals for distinguished service are normally presented by the defence minister, but in a break from protocol the medal was handed over by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who is a personal friend.
Lt Gen Earley, who joined the army in 1965, has been chief of staff for six years.
He was also responsible for establishing special operations training for the Defence Forces and establishing the Army's elite Ranger Wing in 1980.
He received the citation for "outstanding qualities of leadership, resourcefulness and devotion to duty".
Mr Cowen said Lt Gen Earley was a "worthy recipient" of the Distinguished Service Medal.
Fine Gael defence spokesman Jimmy Deenihan also paid tribute to the general. "He has given tremendous service to the Defence Forces. And I consider him one of the greatest footballers, not only from Roscommon but the entire country."