I wrote about the Siege of Jadotville when an Irish Army UN Force of a few hundred men held of an attacking force of several thousand supported by aircraft in the Congo during the Defence Forces first (of many) UN peacekeeping deployments in 1961.
I came across this report recently which was written last year in the Derry Journal and gives a quite detailed account of the action and the involvement of a local man from the City, John MacAnaney
The report is very detailed and sadly once again outlines how badly the men and particularly their Commander – Cmdt Quinlan – were treated by the Irish army hierarchy on their return.
It was a wrong that was only righted over forty years later.
The soldiers who fought at Jadotville regarded Cmdt Quinlan as an exceptional leader who saved their lives. Eventually in 2004, then Minister of Defence Willie O’Dea held an inquiry that cleared Pat Quinlan and A Company of any notion of misconduct.
A commemorative stone honouring the soldiers was erected in Athlone Barracks in 2005 and a portrait of Cmdt Quinlan now hangs in the Congo Room of the Irish Army UN School.
The Derry Journal report also includes news cutting from the period which announced the means return and also carries a story on the same page about the still controversial death of the UN Secretary General while trying to broker a peace deal in the troubled country.
The film of the siege in which actor Jamie Dornan plays Cmdt Quinlan is a fair depiction of the events and certainly does not pull its punches in exposing the villainy of some of the UN political apparatchiks at the time like Conor Cruise O’Brien (also Irish who is depicted in the film as indifferent to the fate of the inexperienced Irish troops isolated in Jadotville as a result of his own instructions.
The Film released on Netflix has been well received although some critics suggest more detail on the period after the units surrender when they were held hostage for a month should have been included. The Derry Journal report gives an account of that period.
The Irish Army have gone on to undertake many UN peacekeeping tasks globally and are highly respected but Jadotville is now finally regarded as one of their finest missions.
Image: Mortar platoon Irish UN peacekeepers Jadotville Congo 1961
Public Relations Officer Mannin Branch
Issued by: The Mannin branch of the Celtic League.