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5,000 sign Facebook tribute to Lt Gen Earley

MORE THAN 5,000 people have signed up to a special website honouring the late Army chief Dermot Earley.

The Facebook page, which was set up by his former Defence Forces colleagues, has been flooded with messages and memories from members of the public.

The Defence Forces have now thanked the public for the huge outpouring of grief, saying it has been "incredibly heart-warming to read the comments" and that they will hopefully provide some solace to the Lieutenant General's family.

Lt Gen Earley (62) died on June 23 after a long battle with illness -- 10 days after he stepped aside as the country's most senior Army officer.

Shortly after his passing, the Defence Forces set up a 'RIP Lieutenant General Dermot Earley DSM' page which was opened to members of the public. Captain Pat O'Connor explained to the Herald: "We understood that there was a wave of emotion forming in the online community from people who wanted to engage and to pay their respects.

"The idea for creating the page to share thoughts and condolences came from listening to our friends online and giving them what they wanted. Facebook was the obvious way to do this."

In a week nearly 5,000 people signed up with many leaving personal messages of support for his wife Mary and their children David, Conor, Dermot, Paula, Anne-Marie and Noelle.

One contributor wrote: "I had the honour of meeting this man a handful of times, men should strive to be as genuine and inspiring as this man, a true legend and will be sadly missed, RIP." Another said: "Not only did our nation lose a great soldier. We also lost a brilliant statesman. My own opinion is that we also lost a future President of Ireland."