Thursday, 24 January 2019

Ceisteanna (72, 73)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

72. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if consideration will be given to adapting the existing scheme for posthumously awarding a service medal for Cumann na mBan members in view of the difficulties experienced by many women in Northern Ireland that did not apply for pensions or medals due to the political circumstances within the country at the time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3573/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

73. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he or his officials have considered additional schemes which would seek to give an official recognition to the significant role played by Cumann na mBan members (details supplied). [3574/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 and 73 together.

In certain situations a service medal can be posthumously awarded if no such medal was previously awarded. This is only done in exceptional cases and only where there is incontrovertible verified evidence available from Departmental records that the criteria for the award of a medal have been met. The relevant records were maintained for the specific purpose of dealing with individual applications for medals or pensions and not to act as a record of all activities during the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. Where a person made an application for a pension or medal in respect of their service or involvement in the Easter Rising and/or War of Independence, verified evidence of service was required before the award of a pension or medal was made. Such verification was provided by surviving members of the old IRA and other related organisations who knew of the membership and activities of the applicant. However, not every individual who was involved in Easter Week and/or the War of Independence made an application for a pension or medal and in such cases there would have been no reason to seek or hold verification of membership or individual activities.

As the Deputy will appreciate, there are now no surviving members of Cumann na mBan or the old IRA alive who could verify membership. Due to the length of time that has now elapsed there is no mechanism available at this stage by which service and activities, in the absence of existing Departmental records, can be investigated or verified. In the absence of a verification process at this stage it is very difficult to satisfy the requirements and therefore the award of such posthumous medals is quite rare.

Any application for a posthumous medal made to my Department will be carefully considered; however, I have no plans to put in place wider arrangements or to amend the criteria in relation to the posthumous award of medals relating the 1916-1921 period.

I can confirm that there are no applications for posthumous medals in respect of Cumann na mBan service on hand, nor have any such applications been received in recent years. If the Deputy has a case in mind he can contact my office and I will look into the matter.