'A' Company, 35th Battalion, on parade in Custume Barracks, Athlone, prior to departure to Congo in 1961.

No date for State event to mark anniversary of Siege of Jadotville

It's 60 years this week since the battle of Jadotville, in which 156 Irish peacekeeping troops came under attack in the Congo, but no date has yet been fixed for a State event to mark the anniversary.

When speaking in the Seanad in July, Defence Minister Simon Coveney referred to the upcoming six-decade milestone and said there would be a State event to commemorate it. This coming Sunday, September 19, was cited as the likely date at that stage.

On Monday of this week, however, a spokesperson for the Department of Defence told the Westmeath Independent that no date had been fixed for it.

"It is the intention of the Minister for Defence to hold an appropriate commemorative event to mark the 60th anniversary of Jadotville and while planning is underway, a date for this event has not yet been confirmed," said spokesperson Jane Nolan.

Outlining the story of the battle of Jadotville, she explained that a large force of Katangese Gendarmerie had surrounded the men of 'A' Company, 35th Infantry Battalion, on September 9, 1961.

"They endured almost continuous attack from September 13 to 17. They were taken into captivity on September 17 until finally released on October 25, 1961."

Ms Nolan added that the Secretary General of the Department of Defence, Jacqui McCrum, and its Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, had "paid tribute to the extraordinary courage, skill, commitment and sacrifice of the men of 'A' Company, 35th Infantry Battalion when attending the peacekeeping memorial event at the United Nations HQ in New York recently."

Many of the Jadotville veterans were from Athlone. Custume Barracks was the site for both the memorial plaque to the men of 'A' Company, unveiled in 2005, and the presentation of An Bonn Jadotville, the Jadotville medal, which was awarded to the veterans and their families in 2017.

The Military Archives currently has an online exhibition marking the 60th Anniversary of the battle at Jadotville. This can be found here.