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'No special honours' for soldiers, prison staff, gardaí who served during The Troubles

One TD thinks there should be.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said it has no plans to introduce special honours for Irish security personnel who served during The Troubles, outside of what currently exists.

However, one prison officer was posthumously honoured for his service in 2013.

Derek Keating, a Fine Gael TD, made the call in a parliamentary question earlier this month, asking if a service medal would be awarded to Defence Forces troops, gardaí, and prison officers who served between 1968 and 1998.

He noted that nine gardaí, one soldier, and one prison officer died during this period.

Crime & Punishment - Kidnapping - Tiede Herrama - Monasterevin - 1975 Gardaí negotiating with the IRA kidnappers of the Dutch industrialist Dr Tiede Herrama at a house in Monasterevin, Kildare. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Keating had suggested that some enhanced recognition is needed, as The Troubles was difficult period to serve during, and awarding a medal now would be ‘a recognition that the State has moved on’.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said two medals are currently awarded to Defence Forces troops – The Service Medal, and its reserves equivalent. Both requires a set period of service.

Crisis at St Brendan's Hospital Fine Gael TD Derek Keating Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

“While acknowledging the significant role of all Defence Forces personnel to the security of the State throughout the period of The Troubles,” the Minister continued, “I am satisfied that these medals meet the need of marking service of personnel with either the Permanent Defence Force or the Reserve Defence Force as the case may be, and I have no plans to introduce additional medals in this regard.”

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald noted that gardaí can be awarded The Scott Medal for ‘exceptional bravery’. Some 400 of these have been awarded since 1923. Prison officers have three separate awards, the highest of which is The Stack Medal, only one of which has been awarded.

“The Stack Medal was posthumously awarded to the late chief officer Brian Stack on 3 May 2013 by the then Minister for Justice and Equality in recognition of his loyal service to the State,” she said.

Stack was shot in 1983, and died 18 months later from his injuries. The Irish Independent reported in 2013 that the IRA later claimed responsibility for the “unsanctioned” attack.

Read: A major investigation has been launched into the murders of ‘IRA informers’ >

Torture, abuse and a suspect’s death: An RUC holding centre used during the Troubles >

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Nicky Ryan

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