New medal announced for members of Defence Forces involved in humanitarian operations

Everybody who has participated in 'Operation Pontus' will be presented with a medal next month

New medal announced for members of Defence Forces involved in humanitarian operations

File photo. Image: Defence Forces

Irish personnel who took part in rescue missions in the Mediterranean are to be awarded a new medal.

They are to receive the Defence Forces International Operational Service Medal.

The Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe announced the creation of the new award while he was visiting the crew of the LÉ James Joyce in Sardinia today.

The medal ceremony for all those who have taken part in 'Operation Pontus' - the Defence Force's humanitarian operation to rescue refugees & migrants in the Mediterranean - is to take place next month in Rosslare.

Minister Kehoe said: "The deployment of this ship and other 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. 

"The rescue of over 11,500 migrants, to date, by Irish Naval Service vessels demonstrates clearly the value of Ireland’s participation in this important humanitarian response," he added. "Those who serve the State in these important humanitarian missions will receive a recognition which is deserving of the contribution which they have made."

He also suggested the families and partners of those deployed in the Mediterranean are “often the unsung heroes of such missions" for the sacrifices they make.

The LÉ James Joyce left Ireland in July, and is due to return to Ireland later this month.

The LÉ Eithne, LÉ Niamh, LÉ Samuel Beckett and LÉ Róisín have previously been deployed to the Mediterranean.