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Lt Gen Dermot Earley DSM
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2010 Recipient of Outstanding Achievement Alumni Award - Society


A born leader, legendary sportsman, hugely popular and charismatic Irishman as well as great family man, the late Lieutenant General Dermot Earley first joined the Defence Forces as a Cadet in 1965. Commissioned into the Infantry Corps in 1967 and appointed a Platoon Commander in the Recruit Training Depot at the Curragh, Dermot specialised in Physical Training and Education and was appointed an Instructor at the Army School of Physical Culture (ASPC) in 1969. He also completed a specialist Diploma in physical education at St. Mary's College Twickenham in 1971 .

Dermot's army career led to a variety of operational and administrative appointments in the Curragh Command where he completed the First Ranger Course in the Defence Forces, which led to the establishment of Special Operations Training and the formation of the Army Ranger Wing (ARW).

Following a period as Assistant Command Adjutant at Curragh Command Headquarters (HQ), Dermot was appointed School Commandant of the ASPC. From 1983 to 1987, he worked as a Staff Officer for overseas operations and later current operations in the Chief of Staff's Branch at Defence Forces Headquarters (DFHQ). On return from an overseas posting in 1991, Dermot was appointed an instructor at the Command & Staff School of the Military College and in 1994/95, he helped establish the United Nations Training School Ireland (UNTSI) in the Military College. He was promoted to Colonel in 2001 and held the appointments of Director of Administration and Director of Personnel before being selected for promotion to Brigadier General in December 2003. Promoted to Major General in Feb 2004, Dermot was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff (Support). He was appointed Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces by the Government on 28 June 2007.

Dermot also had extensive overseas service. He served with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation (UNTSO) in the Middle East from 1975 to 1977 and was Adjutant of the 52 Infantry Battalion with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 1982/83. From 1987 to 1991, he served as the Deputy Military Advisor to the Secretary General of the UN at UN Headquarters in New York. Dermot also commanded the 81st Infantry Battalion with UNIFIL in 1997. He graduated with Honours from the University of Limerick in 1999 with a Masters in Peace and Development Studies

As Chief of Staff, Dermot oversaw the deployment of the significant Defence Forces contribution to the Chad Mission. This deployment demonstrated increased force projection and logistics capability by the Defence Forces and advanced the Defence Forces ability to operate in adverse environments. He also directed key initiatives in equipment purchases, personnel practices and education, positioning the Defence Forces as an organisation where best practice and modern technologies are accepted as the norm and where personnel are key enablers to all Defence Force capabilities.

In April 2010, Lt Gen Dermot Earley was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) with Honour by An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. The citation with the medal read: "For outstanding qualities of leadership, resource and devotion to duty as Chief of Staff in successfully commanding the Defence Forces for his period as Chief of Staff and for his distinguished service with the United Nations."

Separate to his army career, Dermot was an outstanding sportsman. Born in Roscommon in 1948, he played Gaelic football for his home county for twenty years (1965 - 1985) and was the holder of five Connaught Senior medals, 2 All Star Awards (1974, 1979), 1 National League medal (1979), 1 U21 All Ireland Medal (1966) An All Ireland runners up Medal (1980) and 2 Railway Cup Medals. In 1985, Dermot played his last game for Roscommon, on a losing Connacht Final day. The significance of the occasion was not lost on his opponents, many of whom were almost 20 years his junior. It is reported that the Mayo players set aside their own celebrations to carry Dermot off the field on their shoulders in a powerful recognition of a wonderful man.

Retiring from the Defence Forces on 13 June, 2010 , Dermot died ten days later at the age of 62, having been ill for a number of months. He is survived by his mother Kitty, his wife Mary, his sons David, Dermot and Conor, his daughters Paula, Ann-Marie and Noelle, his daughter-in-law Sinead, his grandson Oisin and by his brothers Paul and Peter, and his sisters Margaret and Denise.


Described as *"the hero you were glad you met... a man so elegant he shouldn't be durable, so durable he shouldn't be elegant, a man as close to perfection as a man can be… All who came into contact with the charismatic Dermot Earley were enhanced by the experience. He had a meaningful word for everyone and genuinely believed in helping others... Dermot Earley's entire life could be characterised as incontrovertible proof that the concepts of manliness and fairness need not be mutually exclusive.”


* Reference: Liam Horan, Irish Examiner, June 2010

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