Lt. General Dermot Earley Prize awarded at NUI Maynooth

The inaugural Lt. General Dermot Earley Prize for the outstanding dissertation on the Certificate in Strategic Leadership programme at NUI Maynooth has been awarded to Lt. Colonel Patrick Mc Daniel. The award is named in honour of Lt. General Dermot Earley, former Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, who died earlier this year.

The prize winner, Lt. Colonel Mc Daniel, who has served in Lebanon, Eritrea, Liberia, and Chad, considered the impact of a changing Irish societal context on the Defence Forces missions abroad. In doing so he examined his own experience and the experience of other overseas mission commanders and identifies a view of Irish youth culture that is contrary to the popular media perception of feckless, overweight, hard drinkers. The paper provides a fascinating insight into the challenges faced by commanding officers and how senior officers in a modern Irish Defence Forces must go well beyond the simplistic concepts of command and control to shape and influence its performance.

Professor Anne Ryan, Department of Adult and Community Education, said “the paper identifies the complex and challenging role that faces Irish mission commanders. Working in situations where Defence Force personnel interact with governments, NGO’s, civilians and other military organisations creates enormous challenges, and then add to that the challenge of leading young Defence Force staff.”

Speaking at the award ceremony, Professor Robert Galavan, Head of the School of Business, said “Lt. General Earley was passionately committed to education and development and it is a fitting tribute that this important award honours his legacy.” He commented that “perhaps in these difficult economic times we can find some comfort in an analysis that identifies Irish youth working positively with professionalism, thoroughness, and vigilance. The 50 degree Celsius heat of a summer in Chad does not create ideal conditions, but as Lt. Colonel Mc Daniel’s paper demonstrates, good leadership and the right people can develop a thriving culture in even the most challenging circumstances. There are many lessons to be learned from those who lead under fire - in particular the powerful role that culture, not just rules and regulations, plays in success.”

Launched in September 2008, the Certificate in Strategic Leadership is a doctoral level programme, specifically designed for senior Defence Forces officers, covering two broad areas – understanding the national and global context within which the Defence Forces operate and empowering Irish officers to better interpret and manage the highly volatile political and diplomatic environments they may encounter.