It is with great sadness that the Defence Forces have learned of the death
of former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Dermot Earley, at the age of
General Earley, who retired from the Defence Forces on the 13th of June, had
been ill for a number of months.
Reacting to news of General Earley’s death, the Chief of Staff of the
Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean McCann said:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Lieutenant General
Dermot Earley. He was a man of exceptional personal qualities, who made an
enormous contribution to the Defence Forces throughout his 44 years of
distinguished service. He was a hugely talented officer, whose personal
charm and charisma, together with his extraordinary leadership skills, won
him universal respect and admiration throughout the organisation and the
entire country. He was an officer of keen intellect who focussed his many
talents and abilities on modernising the Defence Forces and on enhancing the
reputation of the organisation both at home and overseas. An iconic figure,
General Earley represented the Defence Forces, both nationally and
internationally, in a manner that instilled pride and confidence in those he
commanded. General Earley was a gifted sportsman and a man of unique
interpersonal skills, whose conduct was the very essence of inspirational
leadership. On behalf of the Defence Forces, I would like to extend my
deepest condolences to his wife Mary and to his family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh
a ainm dílis.”
As Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Earley 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, General 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
Lt Gen Earley was born in 1948 and joined the Defence Forces as a Cadet in
1965. He was commissioned into the Infantry Corps in 1967 and appointed a
Platoon Commander in the Recruit Training Depot at the Curragh. He
specialised in Physical Training and Education and was appointed an
Instructor at the Army School of Physical Culture (ASPC) in 1969. He
completed a specialist Diploma in physical education at St. Mary’s College
Twickenham in 1971.
He held a variety of operational and administrative appointments in the
Curragh Command and 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), General Earley 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 he
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.
On promotion to Lieutenant Colonel in 1995, he commanded the 27th Infantry
Battalion headquartered in Dundalk, and held further appointments as Officer
In Charge (OIC) of Conciliation and Arbitration and OIC Public Relations at
DFHQ. He was promoted to Colonel in 2001 and held the appointments of
Director of Administration and Director of Personnel before been selected
for promotion to Brigadier General in December 2003. General Earley was
promoted to Major General in Feb 2004 and was appointed Deputy Chief of
Staff (Support). He was appointed Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces by
the Government on 28 June 2007.
Lt Gen Earley 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. Lt Gen Earley commanded the 81st Infantry
Battalion with UNIFIL in 1997.
Lt Gen Earley played Gaelic football for Roscommon for twenty years (1965 –
1985) and was the holder of five Connaught Senior medals, 2 All Star Awards,
1 National League medal (1979), 1 U21 All Ireland Medal (1966) An All
Ireland runners up Medal (1980) and 2 Railway Cup Medals.
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.
A military funeral will take place for Lt Gen Earley, the details of which
will be announced later.