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McCann takes over as Defence Forces chief

MAJOR General Sean McCann has become the new head of the Irish Defence Forces.

The former deputy chief of staff, who hails from Co Cork, boasts 40 years' service since he joined the army as a cadet.

Major General McCann has overseas experience including numerous trips to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Lebanon.

He takes over the post on Sunday in sad circumstances as the current chief of staff Lieutenant General Dermot Earley has been forced to retire due to ill health.

He will take up the post of head of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps.

General McCann was nominated as his successor by the Government yesterday after the Cabinet accepted the recommendation from Defence Minister Tony Killeen.

He will be appointed by President Mary McAleese.

In 2007, McCann (59) was appointed director of operations at defence forces headquarters, and subsequently worked at the defence forces' training centre.

Speaking about his appointment, Major General McCann said that he was "proud and honoured" to take up the post while he also paid tribute to the outgoing Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dermot Earley.

"I am both proud and honoured to be nominated as Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, an organisation with a long and proud tradition of service to the state," he said.

"I intend to ensure that the organisation continues to develop the skills and capabilities necessary to meet the increasingly complex challenges of the security environment both at home and overseas.

"I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Lieutenant General Dermot Earley, the outgoing Chief of Staff, who retires due to ill health after 44 years' service.

"He has made an enormous contribution to the Defence Forces and to the state during his long and distinguished career."

Minister for Defence Tony Killeen also thanked Lt Gen Earley for his years of service to the State, saying he had made a "truly remarkable contribution" to public life.

Major General McCann joined the armed forces as a 19-year-old and by the age of 21 he had been commissioned as an Officer and served in various Cavalry units in Plunkett Barracks.

He has risen through the ranks during his illustrious career and in 2009 became Deputy Chief of Staff with responsibility for all operational activities of the Defence Forces.

Major General McCann has served in some of the most dangerous flashpoint areas in the world over the past 30 years.

His first major missions came as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in 1981 and 1987.

He also served as a Senior Operations Manager with the Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission in 1991 after the first Gulf War.

He also served in Sarajevo in 2000 and 2002

Major General McCann lives in Newbridge, Co. Kildare but was born in Cork in 1950 and grew up in Tipperary where he was educated in Thurles CBS and in Cistercian College Roscrea.

He attended college at University College Galway and is a graduate of the United States Command and General Staff College.

He is married to Frances and they have two sons, one of whom is currently serving in the Defence Forces.