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Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

All across the world people have been watching the film, "The Siege of Jadotville". I have been asked again and again whether it is a true story. People are actually stunned when they watch the movie. In any other country, these people would be heroes. Buildings, schools, hospitals and so on would be named after them all around the country. For more than 50 years, however, these men had to keep their heads down. There are veterans of the Defence Forces who did not know, while serving with these men, that they were at Jadotville. Our men mounted an incredible defence of international values out there all those years ago while representing our country and the United Nations.
I thank the Senators in this House who backed the motion to have those heroes, and the family members of those who are deceased, presented with medals. I am overjoyed that is going to happen. The medals could not have been presented on Jadotville day, when these men would have been with their fellow veterans and which would have been a wonderful day. That was delayed for reasons I do not understand. That was bad enough but I have learned in recent days that the presentation will be in Custume Barracks. These men will be allowed to have one family member with them while other members watch on from a television screen. There will be one Army photographer there. This is absolutely insane. These men should be on O'Connell Street or at Áras an Uachtaráin. This should be broadcast across the world.
We know from recently released freedom of information requests that there are people in the Department of Defence who fought against these heroes receiving medals at every stage of the process. I am grateful that political leadership came through and that they are getting the medals, but those people in the Department of Defence are still ensuring, in their mealy-mouthed way, that these heroes will not get the day they deserve. Why will RTÉ, the BBC and every television camera in the country not be there? Why are we not celebrating this event? Why are we allowing this small group of Department civil servants to take away the day these men should have? I appeal to the Leader, at this late stage, to speak to the Taoiseach and ensure that we do not make a mess of this thing, having waited 56 years to give the acknowledgement these heroes, who upheld the name of our country and our reputation, deserve. They should get the day they deserve and these mealy-mouthed civil servants must be stood up to once and for all. These men must get the justice they deserve.