Refugee rescue crews to get special medals in Rosslare ceremony
A special medal parade recognising members of the Defence Forces who have taken part in the humanitarian mission rescuing thousands of refugees in the Mediterranean is to take place in Rosslare Harbour next month.
Minister Paul Kehoe made the announcement during a visit to Cagliari, Sardinia to meet Naval Service members crewing the offshore patrol vessel L.É. James Joyce, the crew of which has been involved in search and rescue operations north east of Tripoli, Libya.
The ceremony, which will take place in the latter half of October, will see the awarding of a new medal to members of the Permanent Defence Forces, the Army Nursing and the Chaplaincy Services who have taken part in Operation Pontus rescuing hundreds of migrants trying to get to Europe.
The medal will be known as the 'Defence Forces International Operational Service Medal'.
Speaking to the crew, Minister Kehoe expressed his gratitude, and that of the government 'for the outstanding role you have played in saving the lives of men, women and children, who are fleeing desperate circumstances.
'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. 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.' Minister Kehoe said it was currently the case that personnel who are deployed on humanitarian missions, like Operation Pontus, are not awarded a mission medal.'I recently signed Defence Forces Regulations meaning that this will no longer be the case. It will ensure that 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 said. Minister Kehoe highlighted the voluntary nature of the mission for the personnel deployed and thanked the families and partners for the sacrifices they too are making, often as the unsung heroes.