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Mac Lochlainn secures key meeting on medals for Jadotville veterans

1 June, 2017 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has secured a key meeting this morning with the Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe to discuss the demand from an all-party majority grouping in the Seanad for the State to honour the 156 Irish veterans of the famous Siege of Jadotville with a medals ceremony.

The Siege of Jadotville took place in September 1961 during the United Nations intervention in the Katanga conflict in the modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo when A Company, 35th Battalion (UN service) of the Irish Defence Forces UNUC contingent were attacked by overwhelming mercenary forces, loyal to the Katangese Prime Minister, Moise Tshombe. 

The heroism of the Irish forces in holding out for six days and their subsequent betrayal by those in powerful positions at the time has been dramatised in the recent Netflix movie, The Siege of Jadotville. 

Senator Mac Lochlainn said:

“These men should have come home to heroes’ welcome. Instead, they were betrayed by those who sent them there in the first place. 

“That betrayal and the portrayal of these men as cowards is a black stain on our country. For all of these years, they carried the hurt and pain with them along with their families. 

“Men like John Gorman who were there in Jadotville all those years ago have never given up on their campaign for justice. Step by step, they have torn apart the lies and deception.

“I am proud that an all-party majority in the Seanad have backed a motion acknowledging their heroism and the hurt carried by the Jadotville veterans through the decades. Our motion also calls for the State to honour all of the surviving veterans and family members of those who are deceased in a medal presentation ceremony. Indeed, a proposed medal has already been designed and submitted to Minister Kehoe.

“After months of obfuscation and a Seanad vote yesterday demanding clarification from Minister Kehoe and the Government, I welcome this morning’s meeting.

“I trust that the Minister will confirm plans for a medal ceremony as soon as possible. Time is absolutely of the essence, considering the old age of the surviving veterans.” 

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