26 January 2016 9am
By Bryan T. Smyth
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. John Paul O’Shea, held a Civic Reception for the Irish Naval Service in recognition of the tremendous humanitarian work undertaken by the LE Eithne, LE Niamh and LE Samuel Beckett on Monday at County Hall.
The three Naval Service ships were deployed under ‘Operation Pontus’ supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in what was Ireland’s first humanitarian mission in international waters.
Throughout 2015, the LE Eithne, LE Niamh and LE Samuel Beckett assisted in the rescue of 8,631 men, women and children. They also treated people suffering from dehydration and burns as well as providing food and water.
Mr. Simon Coveney, TD Minister of Defence, General Officer Commanding 1 Brigadier General Philip Brennan (representing the COS – Chief of Staff), Acting Officer Commanding Naval Service Captain David Barry and Officer Commanding LE Eithne Commander Pearse O’Donnell together with a number of naval service crew were in attendance. The LE Niamh and LE Samuel Beckett are currently off the coast of Ireland on duty.
Commander Pearse O’Donnell thanked the Irish people for their support during this mission. He spoke of their role bringing ‘comfort to those in need and assisting those in distress.’ Cork County Council Chief Executive Tim Lucey spoke of the wide role of the Defence Forces and the Naval Service in this humanitarian crisis, rescuing those in need. He also spoke of the functions of the Defence Forces in patrolling the Irish Coast and assisting local authorities throughout the recent flooding crisis.
Minister Simon Coveney also praised the work of the Irish Naval Service in the rescue of so many. The LE Eithne was dispatched only 3 weeks after a decision was made to send a naval service ship. He also highlighted the role of the Defence Forces in the assistance they gave throughout the flooding crises over Christmas, where over 2,000 personnel and over 400 vehicles were deployed. He also acknowledged the number of personnel who are currently on active peacekeeping duties overseas and Irelands unmatched historical record in this regard. This complex humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean highlighted the capacity of the Irish Naval Service to deal with complex undertakings.
Deputies Michael McGrath and David Stanton also reiterated the incredible work of the Irish Naval Service and how proud the Irish people are.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr John Paul O’Shea said “Today’s civic reception is just a small token on behalf of the people of County Cork in recognizing the tremendous effort undertaken by the Irish Naval Service. We, as a local authority are truly proud of each and every single one of the crews who carried out such incredible humanitarian work and to say Thank You from the People of Cork”.