By January 4, 2018 January 8th, 2018 No Comments

By  Don Mullan (Communications Officer, SMA) – Jan 3, 2018

The Late Lieutenant General Dermot Earley and Fr. Patrick Devine, SMA

”And if I can conclude this response by referencing back to the reason we have assembled in this room. It must be in the Roscommon breeding but I think Dermot Earley would have endorsed Fr. Patrick’s philosophy that the resolution of conflict may be fraught and complicated and not always mutually compatible but it may be achieved through leadership, perseverance and of the desire to communicate and seek resolution.” – Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Kevin Cotter.

On November 23, 2017, Fr. Patrick Devine, SMA, was invited to deliver the 4th Annual Dermot Earley Lecture at the Kennedy Institute, Maynooth University.

Fr. Devine’s lecture was introduced by the President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan. Professor Nolan’s comments are published below. Following his lecture, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Major General Kevin Cotter, responded as follows:

“It is a great honour to have the opportunity today, on behalf of the Defence Forces, to deliver this response to Fr. Patrick’s excellent and truly fascinating presentation on his experiences of working with communities in Eastern Africa in the promotion of peace, justice, security, reconciliation and conflict transformation. It is an even greater honour to do so in this forum that honours the memory of such a committed and professional soldier, officer, academic and family man, the late Lieutenant General Dermot Earley, DSM.

Fr. Patrick with Earley family: Dermot Jnr (Chair of GPA), Paula and Mrs Mary Earley

I would like to express the regret of the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, who is unable to attend today. A great supporter of this event, it was very much his intention and desire to speak on this occasion. Unfortunately however, official business has necessitated him being elsewhere.

I also welcome Mrs. Mary Earley, Comdt Dermot Earley and Ms. Paula Earley.

At the outset I wish to express my thanks and appreciation to the President of Maynooth, University, Professor Philip Nolan, and all the staff of Maynooth University and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for facilitating this event, now in its fifth year. Collaboration between the Defence Forces and Maynooth dates back to 2002, through its initial partnership in the delivery of the Senior Command and Staff Course. Today these bonds of cooperation and mutual development now extend across the full spectrum of officer education, in pursuit of excellence in leadership, management, defence and security related studies.

The Global Peace Index 2017 shows a world that has become less peaceful in the last year, continuing an underlying trend of declining peace, which unfortunately has been the trend of the last number of decades. While the most peaceful countries continue to improve, the least unfortunate continue to fall into greater conflict and violence. According to the OECD there are now over 1.5 Billion people today that live in conflict affected fragile states. In this deteriorating global environment it is widely recognised that these challenges of conflicts must be met by a comprehensive approach, where civilian, military, governmental and non-governmental capabilities are mutually reinforcing and working towards common goals of sustainable peace and development. To achieve such far reaching goals, coordination is a prerequisite in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness. However, (as Fr. Patrick alluded in his presentation), the coordination and cooperation between actors still remain one of the major challenges in today’s crisis response and peace operations.

Fr. Patrick Devine with Major General Kevin Cotter before the lecture

While much has changed in relation to Ireland’s domestic economic environment, there were two constants – Ireland’s aid budget and the Defence Forces deployment on overseas service. The 2015 White Paper on Defence emphasised the Government’s commitment to the maintenance of a versatile force that is equipped, organised and trained along conventional lines and which can participate in a broad spectrum of military and civil support operations both at home and internationally. It sets out a long-term and forward looking approach to defence provision and develops a pragmatic and appropriate response to a highly dynamic security environment in a volatile and unpredictable world. However, the White Paper is also, fundamentally about commitment – the commitment of Ireland and the Defence Forces to the United Nations and to conflict resolution with similar aspirations of the Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in that we should aspire to replace “conflict and violence with peace and cooperation”.

Ireland has a long and proud tradition of international peacekeeping and has the unique record of having men and women in continuous service of international peace since our first deployment of observers to Lebanon in June 1958. Since then we have committed troops to every corner of the globe from the Middle East, Africa, Austral-Asia and to Central America. As we know this support comes with a cost: eighty five members of the Defence Forces have died while serving overseas in the service of international peace and one soldier remains missing in action since 1981.

A fundamental premise of a Comprehensive Approach is that the scope of the crises faced by the International Community is often of such a scale that no single agency, government or international organisation can manage them alone, and this is perhaps most evident from the prevailing transnational global crises. This brings the requirement for cooperation into sharp focus and the requirement for all actors in the civil-military space to develop appropriate relationships, manage information, develop policy and coordination structures and mechanisms. We have evidence today of how this theory can be translated into action. Of how Fr. Patrick and the Shalom Centre has negotiated and engaged with tribal and community leaders in the resolution of a number of cross cutting initiatives such as education, empowerment and transcending ethnic and religious boundaries in an attempt to resolve the causes of conflict. Their activities are a lesson to us all in how to address negative ethnicity, long-standing animosities, cultural differences, resource competition and institutional deficiencies.

Fr. Patrick  Devine presents Major General Kevin Cotter with a gift from Africa

Fr. Patrick has also provided tangible evidence of how this cooperation must be extended beyond the local environment if lasting solutions are to be found. Through his presence here today in Maynooth, he has demonstrated the importance of a global reach, of providing information to actors beyond his immediate influence and through these actions positively influence a wider international audience. We are grateful for his words of inspiration today and it comes as no major surprise that he, like the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa and Senator George Mitchell, are recipients of the Caring Award from the Caring Institute of the US.

And if I can conclude this response by referencing back to the reason we have assembled in this room. It must be in the Roscommon breeding but I think Dermot Earley would have endorsed Fr. Patrick’s philosophy that the resolution of conflict may be fraught and complicated and not always mutually compatible but it may be achieved through leadership, perseverance and of the desire to communicate and seek resolution.”

Major General Kevin Cotter


Professor Philip Nolan
Maynooth University

The late Lt. Gen Dermot Earley made outstanding contributions, and especially important leadership contributions in Irish and international public life. The Annual Dermot Earley Lecture recognises and remembers these contributions: a partnership between the Irish Defence Forces and Maynooth University, the objective of this event is to provide a forum for inclusive discussion of the challenges of public leadership and of public governance in a decade of profound crisis and change. This year is the fifth iteration of the Dermot Earley Lecture. The inaugural lecture was presented in 2013 by former Chief of Staff Lt Gen Sean McCann. Previous speakers include Mr John Ging, Director of the Operational Division, UNOCHA, Mr Tomi Reichental, holocaust survivor and Mr John Concannon, Director of the 1916 Centenary Programme.

You are welcome to Renehan Hall for this year’s event and our invited speaker is Rev. Dr. Patrick Devine.

I also once again welcome Dermot’s wife Mary and family including, daughter Paula and son Dermot Jnr this evening.

I also welcome Major General Kevin Cotter and the other members of General Staff including Brigadier General Joe Mulligan, BG Howard Berney and BG Sean Clancy and other Defence Forces personnel here this evening.

I also welcome Bernie Maguire who is representing the Dept. of Defence and Aine Hearns, Head of the Conflict Resolution Unit in the Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Fr. Patrick Devine is originally and proudly from Frenchpark in Co Roscommon. He became a member of the Society of African Missions in 1988 and has spent over 20 years in Eastern Africa. He established the Kenyan based Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) in 2009. The Shalom Centre is inclusive of all faiths and works with people to look at the root causes of conflict. It uses inter-ethnic education, peace building skills and problem solving workshops to do this.

He was awarded the 2013 International Caring Award at the 25th annual Caring Awards in Washington DC, for creating enduring peace settlements in Kenya. This award was presented by Colin Powell. With this award, he succeeds the 2012 winner, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Other former inductees to the Caring Hall of Fame include Mother Teresa, Senator George Mitchell and former US President Jimmy Carter. The award helped to highlight how conflict resolution can be achieved at a grass roots level by getting people to develop their own analytical skills and embrace social and economic development by understanding the fundamentals of what true peace and reconciliation are.

The Shalom Centre and the Kennedy Institute have a forma partnership, signed in 2014, a partnership of which we are most proud; Fr. Devine’s lecture this evening and return to the Kennedy Institute marks a real milestone for our partnership. We anticipate that your address will provide a really substantial and comprehensive overview of your work on conflict transformation in Kenya and across East Africa; we are looking forward to your lecture and are fascinated by how you managed to bring such positive benefit to situations which to many other observers seem intractable. We in the Maynooth University will certainly learn from your overview and hope that we can continue to learn through sustained engagement with you and Shalom.

This is important work for both Kenya and Ireland,; we are proud of and supportive of you and your work, work which very much resonates with the ethos and vision of Dermot Earley, so we are delighted to have you hear to speak with us this evening.

Professor Philip Nolan
Maynooth University

Shalom Center

Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation - contact Fr. Oliver Noonan for more information.

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