1715. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will make available the findings of the military investigation into the siege of Jadotville, which left the men of A Company 35th Infantry Battalion to fend for themselves without support; the number of soldiers interviewed as part of that investigation; the reasons A Company were detailed in Jadotville with only a verbal order while that week B Company and a Swedish company were pulled from their position in Jadotville; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 41685/16 asked on 17 Jan 2017)
Minister of State at the Department of Defence Deputy Paul Kehoe: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1715 and 1716 together.
I was delighted to be able to formally recognise the collective bravery and actions of the men of A Company, 35th Infantry Battalion at a ceremony in Custume Barracks, Athlone on Saturday 17 September 2016. During this ceremony, I presented a Unit Citation to the Company in recognition of their collective bravery and professional performance during the Siege of Jadotville whilst cut-off from support and reinforcements.
I have been informed by the Military Authorities that, in the aftermath of the events which occurred at Jadotville, there was no formal military investigation and that official records remaining do not contain any information regarding the decision-making process underlying the reasons for the deployment of A Company. The Military Authorities have also confirmed there are no known recordings of radio transmissions from this overseas mission held in the Military Archives. However, it is known that two relief attempts were made by road; both were unsuccessful due to obstacles on the main supply route. A helicopter resupply was also conducted, bringing ammunition and water which had, unfortunately, been contaminated.
In the 1960s, a Medals Board considered the issue of the award of medals to A Company. It considered the various cases presented and recommended that no medals would be awarded. The Chief of Staff of the day considered the findings of the Board and was satisfied. Subsequently the question was raised again in a letter to the then Chief, who forwarded the letter to the Medals Board. The Board indicated that the issues raised had received due consideration and that the Board was not prepared to alter its findings.
In 2004, the then Minister for Defence, initiated a re-examination of the Jadotville case on foot of a request from a retired Army Officer. A report was prepared by the Military Authorities and was based on the submission received and associated academic references as well as a review of information contained within the Military Archives. They recommended that the events of Jadotville, the actions of A Company and the contribution of the 35th Battalion be given appropriate recognition.
My decision to issue a Unit Citation and Insignia has formally acknowledged the collective bravery of the men of A Company 35th Infantry Battalion during the siege of Jadotville. This award was a first in the history of the Defence Forces and I am satisfied that it has provided appropriate recognition of the contributions made by all of the members of A company 35th Infantry Battalion.