Poignant ceremony at Wexford Barracks
Ireland's fallen soldiers were remembered at a poignant ceremony at Wexford Barracks on Sunday as Minister with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe arrived to officially open the new memorial garden at the site.
During the poignant ceremony, Minister Kehoe recognised the key contribution made by deceased members of the Permanent Defence Force, Local Defence Force, FCA, Slua Muirí and Army and Navy Reserve.
Among those in attendance were General Officer Commanding One Brigade, Brigadier General Paddy Flynn, Comdt. Enda McDonald, Officer Commanding E Company of the 3rd Infantry Battalion and Chief Executive of Wexford County Council Tom Enright, as well as friends and family members of the soldiers who had given their lives in service of their country.
The steep history of Wexford Barracks was recounted - from the invasion of the Normans to the devastating defeat on Oulart Hill during the uprising of 1798.
In his address, Minister Kehoe spoke of the significance of Wexford Barracks and the symbolism of the new memorial Garden.
'Since the Emergency, Wexford men and women have proudly served as members of the Permanent Defence Forces with the 30th Infantry Battalion and today with the 3rd Infantry Battalion, both head-quartered at Stephen's Barracks in Kilkenny,' Minister Kehoe said.
'Today, Wexford Military Barracks plays an important role as a staging area in the South East for the 3rd Infantry Battalion. This was highlighted during Storm Emma last year - when troops operated from Wexford Barracks in support of the civil authority.'
'I saw, first hand, the work that the Defence Forces put in during that difficult period,' he continued. 'The 3rd Infantry Battalion carried out a total of 346 individual tasks involving 512 troops during that severe weather event. This was not a case of simply responding to the call of duty: It was about protecting the communities around us who needed support and assistance.'
He went on to speak of the role that Irish troops play in bringing peace to some of the most volatile areas on earth.
'In June, we held a state event in Dublin Castle to mark our 60th anniversary of involvement in UN Peacekeeping,' he said.
'But that event was not just for celebration of our proud Peacekeeping record. It gave us an opportunity to remember the personnel who served proudly under the Blue Helmet, but sadly never came home. The 87 members of the Defence Forces, and one member of An Garda Síochana, who we have lost will always be remembered for their dedication and commitment to our State.'
'This garden will be a fitting tribute to their memory and I compliment the personnel based here in Wexford Barracks for this initiative.'