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Defence Forces honoured with award for humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts

The Irish force has been involved in the rescue of thousands of migrants.
Dec 12th 2016, 10:23 AM 6,328 30

THE DEFENCE FORCES have been honoured with an award for their humanitarian and peacekeeping work over the past 12 months.

The men and women who have conducted migrant rescue missions in the Meditteranean as well as those on tours of Lebanon and the Golan Heights were given the award of European of the Year 2016.

Presenting the award, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “The Defence Forces have a proud history of international service for Ireland and on behalf of the European Union and the United Nations.

I am very pleased, as Honorary President of European Movement Ireland, to present Óglaigh na hÉireann with the 2016 European of the Year award.  They are a very worthy recipient, especially this year, when, as well as their ongoing humanitarian and peace-keeping endeavours abroad, they have played a very prominent and important role in our 1916 Centenary commemorations.

The Defence Forces have been involved in the rescue of stranded migrants who are attempting to flee north Africa and come to Europe.

At the start of this month, the LÉ Samuel Beckett assisted in the rescue and transfer of 140 migrants from a rubber vessel. The force has helped bring thousands of people to safety over the last 12 months.

In accepting the award, Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, chief of staff of Óglaigh Na hÉireann, said: “This is a special tribute that endorses the considerable efforts and sacrifices our personnel make in order to fulfil the roles we have been assigned, not only in the international arena, but also domestically and particularly during this year of centenary commemoration.

It is testament to the outstanding service of our soldiers, sailors and aircrew who seek to inspire pride and lead excellence in the performance of their duties, at home and abroad, on land, sea and air.

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Read: ‘I wanted to sweep them up and bring them home’: Ministers meet refugees in Greece >

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Garreth MacNamee

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