Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Defence
198. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the rationale offered by the independent review group set up to review and make recommendations on the Battle of Jadotville in order to seek an extension to the original reporting date of 31 March 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17765/21]
The issue of awarding of Military Medals for Gallantry (MMG) and Distinguished Service Medals (DSMs) to personnel who served in Jadotville in September 1961 has been considered on a number of occasions over the years and a number of actions have taken place to give due recognition to the courage and bravery of all the members of “A” Company, 35th Infantry Battalion who were stationed in Jadotville in 1961.
Notwithstanding the actions that have been undertaken to date, the Minister asked the Chief of Staff to consider whether it is possible, as an exceptional measure, to have a retrospective examination of the events at Jadotville in September 1961 in the context of the award of medals and the possible implications for the integrity of the award of medals system. In response the Chief of Staff proposed the establishment of an independent group of external experts to consider the entire case and evidence, including new evidence, if any, available.
The Independent Review Group has now been established by the Chief of Staff and consists of the following members:
Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retired) (Group Chairperson).
Dr Michael Kennedy, Royal Irish Academy.
Commandant Billy Campbell (Retired).
RSM Michael Dillon (Retired).
Ms Linda Hickey, Military Archives.
Their Terms of Reference are as follows:-
(a) The Review Group will consider ONUC’s operational environment in Katanga, and in particular in Elizabethville and Jadotville
(b) The Review Group will consider the historical evidence and processes in relation to all recommendations for military medals received with respect to the events at Jadotville or encompassing Jadotville.
(c) The Review Group will engage with national and international stakeholders (including Jadotville veterans) as appropriate, with a view to uncovering any additional or new evidence in this case.
(d) The Review Group may consider the actions of individuals not already the subject of a recommendation for a medal in respect of Jadotville
(e) The Review Group will report its findings to the Chief of Staff. The Review Group may make recommendations in relation to possible awards in respect of Jadotville.
In line with the Terms of Reference, the Independent Review Group will examine, report and make recommendations in relation to the ‘Battle of Jadotville’ from 13 to 17 September 1961 and will report its findings to the Chief of Staff.
The work of the Independent Review Group is well underway with over 50 interviews completed and thousands of pages of documents reviewed. The review group was due to conclude by 31st March 2021, however, given the sheer volume of meetings and the comprehensive nature of the research process, which is still producing a vast amount of material, an extension to the reporting date has been approved by the Chief of Staff, as the Convening Authority. The review group will now produce an interim report by 31st March 2021 with the date for the final report to be agreed after that.
Once this work has been concluded, the Chief of Staff will make recommendations as appropriate to the Minister.