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Tuesday 11 December 2018

Ex-Defence Forces chief who made history dies

Lt Col Gerry McMahon. Picture: James Connolly
Lt Col Gerry McMahon. Picture: James Connolly
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Former chief of staff of the Permanent Defence Forces Lieutenant General Gerry McMahon has passed away.

Lt Gen McMahon (82), who was from Limerick but lived in Kildare, died on Friday in the care of the Blackrock Clinic following a long battle with illness.

Growing up in Cathedral Villas, beside St John's Cathedral, he entered the cadet school in the Curragh after completing his secondary education at Sexton Street CBS in 1953.

He served as a member of the Defence Forces for 45 years.

After being appointed chief of staff in 1995, he set about protecting the Army's reputation in the face of its hearing loss claims crisis.

He was proactive in holding press conferences - unusual for someone in the position - communicating the Army's message that the problem could have been dealt with differently. He was also vocal about the effect the crisis was having on morale.

Lt Gen McMahon had an extensive record of overseas service prior to his promotion to the top job.

He served overseas with the 37th Infantry Battalion in the Congo, 21st Infantry Group in Cyprus and 44th Infantry Battalion in the Lebanon.

He spent two years as an observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation in the Middle East.

In August 1998 he made history when he became the first head of the Defence Forces to inspect a British army parade in London.

Lt Gen McMahon is survived by his wife Ann, sons Garret, Aengus and Félim, sister Mona, grandchildren Áine and Ruarí, nieces and nephews and extended family. His funeral will take place at Cill Mhuire, Ballymany, Co Kildare, at 10am tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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