Irish Defence Forces personnel honoured for humanitarian efforts

They become the first members to receive the 'International Operational Service Medal'

Irish Defence Forces personnel honoured for humanitarian efforts

File photo. Image: Defence Forces

Members of the Irish Naval Service have been honoured for their efforts in the mission to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe made the presentation to 54 crew members who served on the L.É. Eithne at a ceremony in Rosslare this morning.

The crew members are the first to receive the Defence Forces International Operational Service Medal which recognises the service of Defence Forces personnel who have served on overseas missions.

The medals were also presented to six personnel who were deployed to Sierra Leone during the Ebola Crisis. 

Minster Kehoe said the L.É. Eithne rescued a total of 3,377 migrants while under the command of Lieutenant Commander Pearse O’Donnell in the Mediterranean between May 16th and July 17th 2015:

“Ireland’s contribution to these missions alongside our Italian and UK colleagues is a tangible example of what can be achieved when nations work together for the good of humanity,” said Minster Kehoe.

“On behalf of the Government and myself, I would like to thank the men and women on parade here today for your valuable contribution to these missions.”    

A number of similar medal ceremonies will take place over the coming months to present the International Operational Service Medal to members of the Permanent Defence Force who have served in Sierra Leone and Operation Pontus - the humanitarian operation to rescue migrants fleeing North Africa.

Meanwhile October 25th has been designated as Jadotville Day to recognise the date the men of A’ Company 35th Infantry Battalion were released from captivity following the Battle of Jadotville.