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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 8 Dec 1999

Vol. 512 No. 4

Priority Questions. - Commemorative Millennium Medal.

Billy Timmins


27 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Defence the plans, if any, he has to mark the millennium with the issuing of a special medal to all members of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26325/99]

A formal proposal has not been made by the military authorities on the issue of a medal to mark the millennium. I understand, however, that they have informally indicated a desire that such a medal should be considered in the context of a similar proposal from the Garda Síochána.

I thank the Minister for his reply. Some years ago, a medal called the "Good Conduct Medal" was issued but was taken off the market after a short period because it did not prove to be very successful. It occurred to me that a medal might perhaps be issued to all members of the Defence Forces for New Year's Day. I would ask the Minister to examine the matter carefully and to consult with interested parties. Irish people are loath to wear medals and ribbons. If one watches the movies, one will notice that the jackets of members of the US army are often covered in ribbons. The issuance of a medal to Defence Force members, merely for having served on the eve of the millennium or on New Year's Day, might possibly demean the value of other medals worn. I urge the Minister to tread cautiously in regard to this matter. Will he assure me that he will consult with various interested parties before this project might proceed?

This matter is at a very early stage. I have not received any requests to date but I will be happy to consider any which may come forward. Irish medals include the following: the Military Medal for Gallantry, Distinguished Service Medal, Service Medal, United Nations Peacekeepers' Medal, Military Star, Good Conduct Medal and the Emergency Service Medal. Overseas missions medals include: United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, United Nations Force in Cyprus, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, United Nations Headquarters New York, Mission Interim Nations Unies Republique Sahara Occidental, United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission, United Nations Special Mission Afghanisation, United Nations Military Observers in Prevlaka, United Nations Special Commission, European Community and others. We already have a significant number of medals and I would have to take costs and other factors into account. If a solid proposal were to be advanced, I would consider it and discuss the matter with the relevant personnel.

I thank the Minister for listing the medals. All of those medals are awarded for specific events or occasions to particular groups of people who carry out certain functions; they are not medals which are issued across the board for no apparent reason.

I thank the Deputy for that clarification – I did not understand that to be the meaning behind his question at the outset. It is important that medals are designated for specific purposes.