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3,500 medals ordered for firefighters 'forgotten' in 1916 commemorations

The medals – to commemorate 1916 to 2016 – will be distributed to 27 local authority locations around the country.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE GOVERNMENT IS set to order approximately 3,500 commemorative medals to be presented to members of the Irish fire services to mark the work they’ve done over the previous 100 years. 

This comes after claims that fire service personnel were “forgotten” during the 1916 commemorations. 

The medals  – to commemorate 1916 to 2016 – will be distributed to 27 local authority locations around the country.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh has said that Ireland has a responsibility to organise “a national recognition of the brave men and women of our fire crews across the country”. 

In the invitation to tender, it said that the successful bid must manufacture, supply and deliver the medals along with holders, ribbons and presentation boxes. 

Long-service awards are already given to fire service personnel when they reach 10, 20 and 30 years of service. 

The award for 20 years of service is a medal bearing the traditional logo of the fire service – a helmet and crossed axes. The medal ribbon has the Irish colours with a central column in red to represent the fire service. 

For 30 years’ service, a badge/pin in the shape of a flame is given. For both of these, the awards are given out at a national ceremony held every second year.

Last year, McHugh said it was important to recognise the role the fire services have played in Ireland’s history, given that other services were acknowledged during the 1916 commemorations.

He said: “The fire services are unique in that they are run by the Local Authorities of the country and aren’t a national organisation in the same way as the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána.

I think this has been an oversight and rather than relying on local authorities to recognise the role of the fire service during the 2016 commemorative year in their area, I believe there should also be a national award. This should also recognise the role of firefighters who saved so much of Dublin during the Easter Rising.
I have spoken to many serving fire officers in my Donegal constituency and in other constituencies and there is a feeling of hurt.
“However I do not believe there was any intention to exclude them, more a reflection of the unique way fire departments in our country are organised across the regions.”

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