Medals of bravery to be awarded to Longford's Michael Tighe and his Siege of Jadotville comrades

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Medals of bravery to be awarded to Longford's Michael Tighe and his Siege of Jadotville comrades

Longford Siege of Jadotville veteran Michael Tighe presenting a copy of his book 'The Tiger of Jadotville' to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo by Tiernan Dolan

Today’s Cabinet decision to award medals of bravery for those who fought in the siege of Jadotville in the Congo in 1961 has been welcomed. 

Some 160 Irish soldiers were attacked by 3,000 enemy troops during the siege but less than ten were injured in the siege in a remarkable feat of resilience and courage.

Longford's Michael Tighe, who met with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny last February and presented him with a copy of his book 'The Tiger of Jadotville', will now, along with his comrades receive official state recognition.

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Longford soldier Michael Tighe on the red carpet at Dublin premiere of The Siege of Jadotville

Speaking on the decision to award a medal to the men of “A” Company, 35th Infantry Battalion and the next of kin of deceased members, to give full and due recognition in honour of their courageous actions at the Battle of Jadotville in September 1961, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, in his final day in officer, said, 

“I am very pleased to announce this decision to award medals to the men of “A” Company.  This fully recognises their bravery and courage during the unique circumstances of the Siege of Jadotville.  

"The UN peacekeeping operation in the Congo was the first time the UN deployed a significant military force and it was also one of Ireland’s earliest UN peacekeeping operations.  I want to take the opportunity to also recall the contribution of all the members of the Defence Forces who served over the course of this Mission.”

Senator Gabrielle McFadden raised the matter as recently as last month she asked Mr Kenny to make it a priority to ensure that this happened before he stepped down as Taoiseach.

She said,  “I am delighted that the campaign to honour these men has finally borne fruit.

“While the unit citation was a recognition of their collective heroism and professional performance, I believed all along that each of them deserved individual acknowledgement.

"It will be a source of enjoyment and pride for those brave soldiers and for their families and I am delighted for them.  It is a pity that it has taken so long but it is great to hear that they will finally get the recognition that they so richly deserve.”

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Tiger of Jadotville by Michael Tighe launched in Longford

Minister of State for the OPW and Longford/Westmeath TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said, “I warmly welcome today’s Government decision but it is something that should not have taken so long.

 

"I am saddened by the fact that so many of the soldiers of A Company of the 35th Infantry Battalion have since passed on and are not here with us today for this important announcement.”

“It has always been my strongly held view that the bravery of the soldiers some 56 years after they were attacked while on United Nations duty should have been recognised many decades ago.

"Nevertheless, I have pressed upon Minister Kehoe since being elected to the Dáil that the mindset of those who delayed the recognition of the soldiers had to change.”