Local representatives from Athlone and Westmeath have praised the decision taken by the Government last week to award medals of bravery to the soldiers of Jadotville.
Mayor of Athlone, Aengus O’Rourke, has welcomed the announcement that members of the 35th Infantry Battalion, who fought at the Siege of Jadotville in 1961, are to be honoured.
“This announcement comes after a long and often fruitless campaign by the families of those who served their country, and it is testament to their hard work, commitment and above all else, their perseverance.
“These soldiers did their duty by their country, put their lives on the line, and it is right and proper that their bravery is recognised by the Irish State.
“The 35th Battalion A Company who held out under intense attacks from over 3,000 belligerents are testament to the skills and abilities of Óglaigh na hÉireann. The veterans of Jadotville and their families finally have what is owed to them by the Irish State.”
Labour’s Deputy for Longford-Westmeath, Willie Penrose, said the medals are long overdue. He added that a legislative amendment will be required to be passed by the Oireachtas, and urged the Department of Defence to prioritise the passing of this legislation without delay.
Fianna Fáil Deputy for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy, welcomed the announcement, but said it unfortunately comes too late for many of the forgotten soldiers.
“I am delighted that the Jadotville soldiers whose memory deserves to be honoured will now be acknowledged with medals for their leadership and bravery but unfortunately it has come too late for some of the soldiers who are now deceased while the awarding of the long overdue medals will not eradicate the years of suffering and hurt which these forgotten men endured over the years,” said Deputy Murphy.