Galway City Council passed a motion this week calling for the government to award veterans of the Siege of Jadotville the Medal for Gallantry and Distinguished Service Medal.
Mayor Mike Cubbard tabled the motion at this week’s meeting of Galway City Council, and it was passed with the unanimous support of all councillors.
The motion called for the government to act on Commandant Pat Quinlan’s initial recommendation that 33 veterans of the siege be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
The Siege of Jadotville in 1961 was the most substantial and costly engagement of the Irish Defence Forces since the Civil War.
A contingent of 155 Irish troops in ‘A’ Company who were part of a UN mission in the Congo under the command of Commandant Quinlan were attacked in the town of Jadotville by over 3,000 mercenaries.
Despite being vastly outnumbered and outgunned by any measure, the Irish soldiers held off multiple attacks for five days.
Commandant Quinlan was left with no option but to surrender after they had run out of food and ammunition, making any further defence farcically untenable.
Commandant Quinlan recommended 33 members of ‘A’ Company for the Distinguished Service and he further said that five of those should receive the highest honour of the Military Medal for Gallantry.
But despite it now being considered a textbook example of the best use of a ‘perimeter defence’, the veterans of Jadotville received no recognition at home, due to the perceived shame of surrender, and possible political embarrassment at errors made further up the command chain.
In 2017 the government decided to award a specially created ‘Jadotville Medal’ to the members of the battalion, however they did not then receive the regular medals for Gallantry their commander recommended them for.
Last November Minister Simon Coveney announced that a review group of outside experts would be created to review the original medal recommendations.
Mayor Cubbard said of his motion that multiple governments have “flip flopped” on granting the soldiers of A Company the medals that they deserve.
“I for one take the account of [Commandant] Quinlan as gospel and that is enough for me. He was in charge, he saw what happened and I have no doubt that he made this recommendation on merit,” Mike Cubbard said on Facebook.