IRA victim Paddy Kelly honoured with Military Star medal
IRA victim Private Paddy Kelly has been honoured with the Military Star medal almost 30 years after his killing.
David Kelly, who last year challenged Sinn Fein chief Martin McGuinness over his father's death, was given a framed citation at a special ceremony.
Pte Kelly's other son, Corporal Andrew Kelly who a serving member of the Defence Forces, was also presented with the medal on behalf of the family.
Defence Minister Alan Shatter posthumously honoured the soldier at Custume Barracks in Athlone.
"I hope the award of this medal, and the knowledge that Paddy's sacrifice will never be forgotten, will bring Paddy's family some comfort and some peace," said Mr Shatter, who laid a wreath.
Pte Kelly was killed on active service in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, in 1983 but no-one has been convicted over the killing.
He was part of a joint Garda-Army operation attempting to rescue supermarket boss Don Tidey who was being held captive by an IRA gang in a forest hideout.
Mr Tidy said Pte Kelly had made the supreme sacrifice.
"Medals are medals, but this is a lovely recognition for a man who did his duty bravely," he added.
Cpl Kelly said he always wanted to become a solider since his late mother Katherina, told him his father died a hero saving someone else's life.
"Ultimately, straight away, that's what I wanted to do, I wanted to join the army," he added.
David said his father was killed in horrific circumstances.
He confronted Mr McGuinness in a shopping centre while he was canvassing for the Irish presidency last October and demanded he answer who killed his father.
"They are painful memories to have to live with," he added.
No-one was ever convicted for the killing and the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister denied he knows the names of those responsible.
Maze prison escapee Brendan "Bik" McFarlane was acquitted in the Special Criminal Court in 2008 of falsely imprisoning Mr Tidey during the kidnap ordeal.
A decision to honour Pte Kelly with the Military Star was taken after a change in regulations earlier this year to honour members of the Defence Forces with the medal if they died on service at home. He is the 41st recipient of the Military Star.
Chief of staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean McCann, said it was a solemn day.
"The Military Star Medal is awarded to the Kelly Family and we recognise in a special way the ultimate sacrifice Private Patrick Kelly made in the defence of his country," he added.
"Private Patrick Kelly was a loyal servant of the state, a family man and a true patriot , it is heartening to see that his son, Corporal Andrew Kelly, is continuing the Kelly family's proud tradition of service to Oglaigh na hEireann and the country."