While the Naval Service may have stolen the limelight for its migrant rescue operations, it was one of the busiest years on record for the rest of the Defence Forces, both at home and abroad.
The Defence Forces has the longest unbroken record of overseas service of any country in the world since first deploying a UN mission in 1958. In 2016, more than 1,400 Defence Forces personnel served in overseas peace support and security operations in 15 countries.
The largest Defence Forces deployments are to South Lebanon where 380 personnel create a safe and secure environment; and to the Golan Heights where 140 personnel are deployed as a disengagement observer force.
The Defence Forces also carried out 220 aid to the civil power operations in support of An Garda Síochána involving bomb disposal, prisoner escorts, explosive escorts, and major cash escorts.
More than 3,000 Defence Forces personnel were deployed throughout a severe weather storm during December 2015 and January 2016 to assist with flood relief. In addition, more than military 500 vehicles and 10 helicopters were provided to support these operations.
Apart from well-publicised operations in the Mediterranean, which this year saved 7,029 migrants, the Naval Service completed over 1,200 boardings and made three detentions for alleged infringements of fishing regulations.
The Naval Service Dive Team was deployed 10 times in 2016 including for seven separate search and recovery operations following requests from the Coast Guard and gardaí.
Meanwhile, the Air Corps conducted more than 300 maritime surveillance patrol flights and undertook 400 emergency aeromedical missions supporting the HSE in providing a medical service for seriously ill patients in rural communities.
As part of the 1916 centenary commemorations, 10,000 Defence Forces personnel visited nearly 3,200 schools and presented the National Flag and a copy of the Proclamation.
The centenary Easter Sunday parade at the GPO included more than 2,800 members of the Defence Forces and a display of military vehicles and aircraft watched by more than 750,000 people lining the streets if Dublin.
The Defence Forces also raised the National Flag on O’Connell St every day during the year.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved