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Irish Voice News
Call to Ex-Defense Members in U.S.
January 3, 2008
By April Drew
THE Irish organization of National Ex-Servicemen and Women Limited (ONET) is opening up its doors to Irish army veterans living in the U.S.
Past chairman of ONET Joe Lynch told the Irish Voice in a recent interview that the organization, which was set up in 1944 to look after the welfare of ex-service personnel of the Irish Defense Services, is growing in numbers annually and now they are hoping to reach out to ex-servicemen and women living in the U.S.
“We are trying to grow our organization to it’s full capacity. I often wonder what happened to the people I served with during my time so I’m sure people in America are also wondering where the people they served with are,” said Lynch, who joined the defense forces in 1980 and spent time in the Lebanon.
The organization’s membership is open to anyone who has served in the Permanent Defense Forces, L.D.F, Reserve, An Slua Muiri, F.C.A, Maritime Inspection, L.S.F, Coast Watching Service, Construction Corps, Irish Red Cross, or Civil Defense.
“We would love people abroad to become a member and help us maintain the organization,” Lynch said.
After seven ex-servicemen died on the streets of Dublin in 1988/’89, the organization knew it was time to do something to prevent further unnecessary deaths. A man by the name of Pat Dunleavy got a small group of men, who were members of the organization, together and decided it was time to raise funding for a soldier’s home.
In 1994 President Mary Robinson opened a newly built 20 bedroom home called Brú na bhFiann, literally translated from Gaelic as “Home of the Brave.”
Since 1994 over 500 ex-servicemen have been accommodated in the charity’s homes throughout Ireland, and many have moved on to independent living. From January 2002 to March 2005 Brú na bhFiann was temporarily located in Leeson Street, Dublin.
During this time ONET housed 24 ex-servicemen and commenced provision of B&B style accommodation for serving retired members of the Defense Forces and their families.
In March 2005 the residents and staff of Brú na bhFiann moved to newly built housing in the Smithfield Market, which now houses 40 people.
Since then and during Lynch’s tenure as chairman of the organization two other homes have opened, one in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal and one in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.
“It costs us €250,000 a year to keep the houses going, so as you can imagine we need many more members to continue the success of the homes,” said Lynch, who works for the Irish Concrete Federation as a business development and training manager.
The charity, which operates on a not-for-profit basis, asks previous and current service men and women for as little as €2 every month to put towards the upkeep of the three homes.
“We have currently 40 ex-servicemen living with us in Ireland of all ranks from private to a commodore. The homes provide the same routine that these people were used to in the defense forces,” said Lynch, explaining that several of the occupants of the rooms would have come from reformatory schools and straight into the defense forces.
“They never picked up the life skills that most people would take for granted. We want these people to cope and get back their dignity.”
Not only are the rooms kept for ex-servicemen and women, they also rent out 10 rooms in Dublin and a few in Donegal and Westmeath to visitors of Ireland.
“We had to go slightly commercial. Thirty rooms in Ireland are for the people living there and the other ten are for people who need a place to stay when on holiday,” Lynch said.
“It’s run exactly like a bed and breakfast and anyone can use this property. A single room is €50 and a twin or double is €80 a night.”
To find out more about becoming a member of ONET, the accommodations available in Ireland or to simply donate log onto
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