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Family 'deeply saddened' as Irishman Rory Mason, 23, killed while fighting for Ukraine

Rory Mason died while fighting in the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine.

Ukrainian armed forces said they are handling the repatriation process.
Ukrainian armed forces said they are handling the repatriation process.
Image: Mason family

Updated Oct 5th 2022, 5:26 PM

AN IRISHMAN has been killed while fighting in Ukraine, his family has confirmed.

Rory Mason, 23, died as a Ukrainian armed forces serviceman while fighting in the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine near the Russian border.

The Mason family learnt of Rory’s death from the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is providing consular assistance.

His father Rob said: “Rory was a private young man of drive, purpose and conviction.

“Though we are deeply saddened at his death, we are enormously proud of his courage and determination and his selflessness in immediately enlisting to support Ukraine.

Rory was never political but he had a deep sense of right and wrong and an inability to turn the other way in the face of injustice.

“He had a long-standing interest in eastern Europe, in travel and in learning new languages, including Russian. Those who fought alongside Rory speak of ‘a truly brave and courageous man who could have left at any time but chose not to’.

“Rory was our son and we will miss him enormously. As our family is still trying to come to terms with Rory’s death, we would appeal for privacy at this difficult time”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement following the Irishman’s death in Ukraine.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs is aware of a case and is providing consular assistance,” a spokesman said.

“As with all consular cases, the department does not comment on the details of any individual case.”

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney expressed his “condolences sympathies” to the family. 

“I spoke to Rory’s father this morning. The family have asked for privacy and I hope people will respect that,” Coveney said.

“This is a tragic loss of a son, an extraordinarily brave and principled young man, but nevertheless, this is a tragic death,” he said. 

St Peter’s College in Dunboyne, of which Rory Mason was a past pupil, issued a statement today offering its condolences. 

“St Peter’s College is shocked to hear the news of the untimely death of Rory Mason who we understand was fighting for the International Legion For The Defence Of Ukraine,” the school said. 

“The entire St Peter’s College community, students, past pupils, teachers and the board of management offer their condolences and deepest sympathies to Rory’s family at this very difficult time.” 

Foreign fighters

The International Legion For The Defence Of Ukraine said Rory Mason’s memory will live on.

“Our brother in arms, Rory Mason has taken part in the Kharkiv counteroffensive with his unit and was killed in action,” a spokesman said in a statement.

“While conducting operations, the unit came under attack.

We are in contact with the family and in co-ordination with them, following their wishes and instructions, the International Legion and the armed forces of Ukraine are handling the repatriation process.

“At this time, to protect operational security and the family’s privacy we cannot release more information Rory’s memory will live on in his unit, in the legion and the armed forces of Ukraine.”

“We would ask for the family’s privacy to be respected at this difficult time.”

A number of Irish citizens have travelled to Ukraine to take part in the fighting in the Foreign Legion. 

Numbers vary but sources have said it could be in the region of 20 or so fighters – most of whom have military experience. 

There are also a number of Irish citizens, mostly former members of the Irish Defence Forces, engaged in private security work in the area. 

Pierre Zakrzewski, a Dublin native and cameraman for Fox News, was killed while covering fighting in Ukraine in April.

Another Irishman – former Defence Forces member Brian Meagher – was injured fighting with the Ukrainian forces last month.  

Includes reporting by Press Association, Rónan Duffy, Niall O’Connor and Hayley Halpin

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