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Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, together with Minister with Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe TD, Honour the Courageous Actions of Irish Soldiers at the Battle of Jadotville in September 1961 with the Award of a Medal

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, together with Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe TD, have today decided to award a medal to the men of “A” Company, 35th Infantry Battalion and the next of kin of deceased members, to give full and due recognition in honour of their courageous actions at the Battle of Jadotville in September 1961.

Speaking of the decision, the Taoiseach said
“I am very pleased to announce this decision to award medals to the men of “A” Company. This fully recognises their bravery and courage during the unique circumstances of the Siege of Jadotville. The UN peacekeeping operation in the Congo was the first time the UN deployed a significant military force and it was also one of Ireland’s earliest UN peacekeeping operations. I want to take the opportunity to also recall the contribution of all the members of the Defence Forces who served over the course of this Mission.”

Minister Kehoe said
“The Siege of Jadotville is burned into the memory of so many Irish people who followed the events through the newspapers of the time. One of the first decisions which I made on my appointment to Office was to honour the men of “A” Company by presenting a Unit Citation in recognition of their collective actions at the Siege. The decision taken today to also honour these men with a medal is an exceptional step which builds upon last year’s ceremony and gives full recognition to their performance at the Siege.”

Minister Kehoe added “I would also like to commend the men and women of our Defence Forces who are currently deployed in many missions in the cause of peace. Their continued participation in United Nations missions illustrates the very positive difference that small countries, like Ireland, can make in the world’s trouble spots. Their dedication and the sacrifices which they are making, together with that of their families, is always to the forefront of my mind.”

The Department of Defence and the Military Authorities will work together to make the arrangements for the awarding of these medals. Given the process required, this will take some time.

ENDS

Note for the Editors

The siege of Jadotville was an event that occurred during Ireland’s peacekeeping mission in the Congo in September 1961. ‘A’ Company of the 35th Infantry Battalion took responsibility for the UN post at Jadotville on the 3rd of September. On the 9th of September they were surrounded by a large force of Katangese Gendarmerie and early on the morning of the 13th September the Company came under attack. Over the coming days until 17th September they endured almost continuous attacks from ground and air.

Despite their courageous resistance and the sustained efforts of 35 Infantry Battalion HQ to provide assistance, ‘A’ Company was taken into captivity on 17th September. By this time ‘A’ Company had no water and several men had been wounded. ‘A’ Company remained in captivity until finally released on 25th October 1961.

The United Nations Operation in Congo was the first peacekeeping mission in which significant numbers of Irish soldiers took part. A total of 6,000 Irish soldiers served in the Congo from 1960 until 1964.




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