Defence Force members honoured for humanitarian work in the Mediterranean

The International Operational Service Medal was presented to 68 personnel

Defence Force members honoured for humanitarian work in the Mediterranean

Image: Flickr/Irish Defence Forces

Dozens of personnel from the Defence Forces have been honoured for their humanitarian work in the Mediterranean.

The International Operational Service Medal was presented to 68 personnel at a ceremony held in Cobh.

The award is designed to recognise the service of personnel who have been deployed on overseas missions by direction of the Government, where no other mission medal has been awarded.

A medal was awarded to serving and retired members who served on Operation Pontus - assisting the Italian authorities in search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean.

Also receiving a medal was a member of the Defence Force deployed to Sierra Leone as part of the international response to the Ebola crises in West Africa.

Speaking during the event, Defence Minister Paul Kehoe acknowledged the outstanding contribution the men and women of the Defence Forces are making in missions overseas.

"While on the mission, the crews demonstrated professionalism and commitment at the highest level in undertaking their role and made a substantial difference to the lives of many migrants."

"There have been six naval vessel deployments to the Mediterranean. The deployment of Irish Naval vessels is an important element in Ireland’s response to the migration crisis in the Mediterranean.

"It highlights the Irish Government’s ongoing commitment to assist with efforts to prevent further tragedy and loss of life at sea."

To date, over 14,700 people have been rescued by Irish Naval Service vessels.

Minister Kehoe added: "The contribution of the Defence Forces to two initiatives in Sierra Leone, no doubt, assisted the international effort to fight the Ebola virus disease in West Africa."

A similar medal ceremony will take place on November 26th in Dún Laoghaire.