Alumni Award for Law, Public Policy and Society - Sponsored by RDJ
Major General Maureen O'Brien, Deputy Military Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations

Major General Maureen O’Brien graduated from University of Galway with BSc in 1980 and HDip in Education in 1981. Major General O’Brien was appointed as Deputy Military Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General in 2021. Her appointment followed an 18-month tour of overseas duty as acting Force Commander on the Golan Heights in Syria.

Major General O’Brien has held many different appointments in her career in the Defence Forces. In 2011 she became the first woman to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and in 2012 became the first woman to command an infantry battalion when she was appointed Officer Commanding 27th Infantry Battalion in Dundalk. She has served in Defence Forces Headquarters where she was the senior staff officer responsible for EU and NATO/PfP engagement. She was also Director of Communications and Information Services for the Defence Forces.

She deployed to seven UN missions; in Lebanon, Western Sarah, Chad, East Timor and Syria. She also worked with the Organisation of Security Coopeartion in Europe (OSCE) in Sarajeveo, Bosnia and Herzegovinia. As Deputy Miliatary Advisor she is responsible for the planning and force generation of 78,000 military personnel to 12 UN peacekeeping operations.

She is the first woman to achieve the rank of General in the Irish Defence Forces.