Coveney cool on Jadotville medals proposal

Defence Minister Simon Coveney said last week that "no new information" had come to light to support calls for the awarding of medals for gallantry and distinguished service to a number of the soldiers who served in Jadotville.

The minister's comment, issued in response to a Dáil question on Thursday October 8, is an apparent setback for the recent campaign to award the honours which Commandant Pat Quinlan had recommended for 33 of the men who served during the Jadotville siege.

Eight of the 33 soldiers recommended for the medals as a result of their actions in The Congo are still alive.

Catherine Connolly, the Independent TD from Galway, asked Minister Coveney (pictured above) to waive the time limits for the awarding of distinguished service medals and military medals for gallantry in order to allow these medals be presented to the veterans of A Company, 35th Infantry Battalion.

The Minister's written reply to Deputy Connolly stated that "the issue of the award of medals was addressed in 1962 and 1965," when "a properly constituted Medals Board" considered the various cases that had been presented.

"The board did not award any medals whose citations mention Jadotville. The Chief of Staff of the day considered the decision of the Board and was satisfied with the findings," stated Minister Coveney.

He said a subsequent Chief of Staff had asked the original Medals Board to reconvene, and review their decision, but the Board had indicated it was not prepared to alter its findings.

The Minister went on to say that there had been "a number of measures" taken to honour and to commemorate the events at Jadotville following a more recent review by military officers in 2004.

He pointed out that these included the awarding of a medal, 'An Bonn Jadotville', to each member of A Company, 35th Infantry Battalion, and to family representatives of the deceased members, at a ceremony in Athlone's Custume Barracks in 2017.

"With regard to enquiries about any additional medals, it has been previously indicated that any additional documentation, information or evidence to support the request to award such medals will be considered.

"At this juncture, no new information has come to light," the Minister concluded.

The eight surviving Jadotville members who were recommended for the medals include Ballymahon resident Joe O'Kane, Mullingar's Tom Gunn, Tullamore's Noel Stanley, and Longford's Michael Tighe.

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