The Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., today presented the new Defence Forces International Operational Service Medal to 60 members of the Permanent Defence Force at a ceremony held in Rosslare Harbour.
The new Defence Forces International Operational Service Medal is designed to recognise the service of Defence Forces 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 54 members of the Permanent Defence Force who served on board L.É. Eithne during her deployment from May to July 2015 assisting the Italian authorities in search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean. Also receiving a medal were some members of the Permanent Defence Force deployed to Sierra Leone during 2014/2015 as part of the international response to the Ebola Crises in West Africa.
While speaking during the event, the Minister said “I am delighted to have this opportunity to be here today to present members of the Permanent Defence Force with the new Defence Forces International Operational Service Medal and, in so doing, to acknowledge the outstanding contribution the men and women of the Permanent Defence Force are making in missions overseas.
“L.É. Eithne, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Pearse O’Donnell, was deployed in 2015 from the 16th of May until 17 July to assist the Italian authorities in search and rescue activities. During this deployment L.É Eithne rescued a total of 3,377 migrants and provided assistance to a further 875 migrants who were taken on board from other vessels and transported to safety.
Minister Kehoe added “The contribution of the Defence Forces to two initiatives in Sierra Leone, no doubt, assisted the international effort to fight Ebola Virus disease in West Africa. It has also had a lasting legacy within the Defence Forces. Valuable lessons were learned from the mission, which have been used in developing medical protocols necessary to train Naval Service personnel for the current humanitarian deployment to the Mediterranean”