The Minister for Justice Equality and Defence today took the opportunity to thank all those who work in the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service for the dedicated and professional service that they continue to provide. 

Speaking today the Minister said "I am delighted to wish a very happy Christmas to all in the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service and thank you for the services you provide which are absolutely vital. Your dedication and commitment are very much appreciated, not just by me and the Government but also by the public you so loyally serve.

I know many of you will be working whilst the rest of the country will be sitting down to Christmas dinner and enjoying family celebrations.   On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I would like to thank you for the many sacrifices that you and your families have to make at Christmas time and  throughout the year so the public can feel safe and protected.

In 2011 we renewed Ireland’s participation in UNIFIL with a mission to South Lebanon. At this time of the year, it is particularly difficult for members of the Defence Forces and the Gardaí who are spending Christmas overseas, separated from their families and loved ones.  It is especially at this time also that the absence of a loved one from home is most greatly felt and I know that their families will miss them all dearly. 

While Christmas is a joyful time and a time for celebration, I'm sure you will all be thinking of those friends and colleagues who have passed on during the year and I join with you in remembering them and their families at this time. Once again, I wish each and everyone of you a very happy, peaceful and safe Christmas and health and happiness for 2012."  

ENDS

23 December 2011