Tributes on Retirement of Captain of the Guard

Before proceeding to Questions on Promised Legislation, of which we have very many, I wish to bring to the attention of the House a very special matter. Today we bid farewell to our Captain of the Guard, John Flaherty, who is attending his last sitting of the House before he retires later this month. John joined the Defence Forces as a cadet in the 51st cadet class on 28 October 1974 and is retiring after 46 years of distinguished public service. He was commissioned in December 1975 and posted to the fourth field supply and transport company in Mullingar. He also served on the Border with the 28th infantry battalion. He served overseas with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, and the Irish infantry battalion. UNIFIL, as we know, and all the personnel who had served with it were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. John also served as a military observer with the UN in Kuwait and Iraq. On returning home he served as assistant aide-de-camp to Uachtarán na hÉireann, Paddy Hillery. He then joined the staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service as Captain of the Guard on 11 November 2002. During his time as Captain of the Guard he has seen the election of five taoisigh. He has welcomed esteemed visitors to the Houses of the Oireachtas such as the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and the President of Germany, Joachim Gauck. He also played a central role in the success of our most recent centenary events, Vótáil 100 and Dáil 100. I think we can all agree that he was always on hand to advise and support Members of the Houses and staff and to keep a close eye to ensure that decorum throughout the corridors of Leinster House always prevailed. His military bearing and his calm presence led to a real sense of security in Leinster House. On behalf of all of us here and the Members who cannot be here today, I wish John all the very best in this new and what I am sure will be an exciting chapter of his life with his beloved wife, Mary, his daughters, Ciara and Laoise, and his son, Patrick. Could we give him a round of applause?

Members applauded.

Thank you, John.