As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government provided for the award of a commemorative medal to all Defence Forces personnel, Permanent and Reserve, who were recorded as being in service in the course of 2016. This was a special acknowledgement from the Government to the members of Óglaigh na hÉireann who served during the centenary year of 2016. The 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal was awarded as a commemorative medal, personal to an individual’s service in the Defence Forces in the course of 2016.
There are no plans to award the 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal to former members of the Defence Forces. Since the foundation of the State many thousands of personnel have served in the Defence Forces. It would not be administratively possible within the resources of the Department to identify and contact all of these persons, decide on eligibility and, in the case of infirm or deceased former members, resolve who should get the medal on their behalf.
At my request, however, discussions took place between the Department and the Veterans’ Associations; the Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA), the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (ONE), and the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (ARCO), to explore alternative means of recognition of the contribution of veterans to the centenary commemorative events in 2016.
Following these discussions, it was agreed that a single presentation would be made to each of the Veterans Associations of a framed medal with an accompanying citation in recognition of the significant contribution of members of the three organisations to the 1916 centenary commemorative events and their service to the State. The medal has a bar with the term Veteran inscribed on it. I agreed that a plaque would be given to each of IUNVA’s 21 Posts and to each of O.N.E.’s 41 Branches. I presented one plaque to each of the three Veterans’ Associations at last year's Defence Forces’ Veterans’ Day which took place in the Defence Forces Training Centre, the Curragh, on Sunday 8 October 2017. The other plaques were presented separately.