Siege at Jadotville - Book Launch Speech
|Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, members of the Defence Forces and distinguished members of the A Company|
It has been said that history is written in four drafts:
The first is the account of the event in the next day’s newspapers
The next is the analysis of the event in the weekly columns
The third comes later, as fresh details emerge from memoirs and diaries of key players
Finally comes the fourth and final draft as the three earlier versions are validated and revised by academics with access to the archives.
In “Siege at Jadotville” Declan has skillfully combined all four drafts.
Ireland is highly thought of for the peacekeeping and humanitarian skills of its Defence Forces. This book highlights just one story which contributed to Ireland acquiring such an acclaimed international reputation for peacekeeping. It is a story of ordinary soldiers doing extraordinary things.
Declan’s research skills are animated by his easy and unique writing style which draws the reader into the drama that was Jadotville.
The Jadotville Report, which I received late last year and which I examined in detail, fully exonerates the actions of A Company in the Congo in September 1961. At the time they surrendered, nothing would have been served by fighting on, except further and unnecessary bloodshed.
It is clear from the Report that the Company and its Commanding Officer acted appropriately given all the circumstances. I am extremely pleased that the Report recommended that the events at Jadotville and the contribution of the 35th Battalion should be given appropriate recognition and I have conveyed my sentiments on many occasions in the Dáil.
In this regard, I decided that a plaque is to be situated in Athlone to commemorate the events at Jadotville and the very significant contribution of A Company and of the 35th Battalion, as a whole, to the UN Peace Support Mission in the Congo. Planning regarding the plaque is progressing well in the Western Brigade and it is anticipated that the plaque will be in situ by the end of this year.
I also decided that portraits of Leutenant Colonel McNamee (35th Battalion Commander) and Comdt Quinlan (Company Commander “A” Company) should be commissioned. It is hoped that it will be possible to hang the portraits in the Congo Room in the United Nations Training School in the Curragh before the end of the year.
The inclusion of anecdotes in Declan’s book from some of the personnel who were involved in the siege - and I am particularly pleased to see some of them present here today - serve to remind us that these were real people who found themselves thousands of miles away from home in an unfamiliar and dangerous situation, yet they had the determination, the belief and the leadership to come safely through their ordeal.
This book is their story - a story that richly deserves to be told. But it is more - it serves as an enduring testament to their remarkable achievement. Through their courage and determination they have left an enduring legacy to the Irish Defence Forces.
My fellow Cabinet Ministers and Party colleagues regularly praise our Defence Forces for their outstanding service in the course of peace overseas but a book like this and the excellent television documentary shown earlier this week on our UN peacekeepers in Liberia really help to bring home to the Irish people just how tough the job is and how well our troops on the ground are performing it.
I would like to complement Declan Power for documenting the story of Jadotville so vividly. He has written an excellent book and I hope that it achieves the high level of recognition that it deserves.
Thank you for asking me to officially launch your book Declan and I am proud to do so. I wish you every success.
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5 August 2005Siege at Jadotville - Book Launch Speech
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