An Irish Army officer, living in Castlebar, who served on a UN peacekeeping mission which came under attack in Congo in 1961, has welcomed the establishment of a review group over the issue of medals for gallantry. 

Noel Carey was the youngest of 10 Irish Army officers at Jadotville when the mission was attacked by an army of more than 3,000 mercenaries. 

Ireland's 35th Battalion 'A' Company held off the attack for five days despite being ill-equipped and outnumbered, before they were forced to surrender. 

They suffered no fatalities, but inflicted a significant number of casualties on the enemy.

The action of their commanding officer, Commandant Pat Quinlan, is cited in military textbooks worldwide as the best example of the use of the so-called perimeter defence.

Last night, the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney told the Seanad that the issue of medals for gallantry for the Irish troops involved in the siege of Jadotville will now be considered by an independent group of experts. 

Mr Coveney said that from 13 to 17 September 1961, the men of A Company were under almost constant attack and at the end of the siege were taken prisoner before being released on 25 October.

He said that in 1962 and 1965, a constituted medals board considered the issue of the awarding of medals, but none were awarded for any citation which mentioned Jadotville and despite a subsequent review, the board was not prepared to alter its findings.

Noel Carey, now in his eighties, is one of the soldiers recommended for distinguished service during the siege.

The group of external experts will include ex-military officers, a historian and an academic to examine the full details of the case. 

Earlier this week, Noel spoke to Midwest Radio’s evening Edition programme giving us forensic detail on his memories of the siege, almost sixty years ago.

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