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‘No 23-year-old should die in this war’ – Taoiseach pays tribute to Irish soldier Rory Mason killed in Ukraine

Mr Mason, from Co Meath, was killed in action in Kharkiv on September 28, his family have said

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Rory Mason. Photo: PA

Rory Mason. Photo: PA

Heavy fighting continues in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, where Rory Mason was killed. Photo: AP

Heavy fighting continues in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, where Rory Mason was killed. Photo: AP

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Rory Mason. Photo: PA

The Taoiseach has paid tribute to Rory Mason, the young Irish man killed fighting for Ukraine.

Micheál Martin said "no 23-year-old should die in this war" and said his "thoughts and prayers" were with Mr Mason's family.

“It’s very, very sad," the Taoiseach said.

“We advise people not to go to Ukraine, we continue with that advice. I believe people who are not in any way, shape or form trained in a military way or have military experience, in my view, should not get involved in the war.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also said nobody should travel to Ukraine right now, but praised Mr Mason’s courage.

“I wouldn’t advise anyone to travel to Ukraine at the moment, it is a country at war and it is a very dangerous place,” he said. “But I do respect the fact that some people will make that decision and I would like to extend my condolences to Rory Mason’s family, to his friends and also to the wider community in Dunboyne.

“I think war should never happen but sometimes people choose to fight and anyone I think on the Ukrainian side of this war is fighting the good fight and we shouldn’t forget that.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney described Mr Mason as “extraordinarily brave”.

Mr Coveney said he contacted Mr Mason’s family following the news he had been killed while fighting with the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine.

“The family have asked for privacy and I hope people will respect that,” Mr Coveney said.

“This is a tragic loss of a son, an extraordinarily brave and principled young man but nevertheless, this is a tragic death and the family want to be given the space to mourn and I hope that people will respect that. Certainly I will.”

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Heavy fighting continues in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, where Rory Mason was killed. Photo: AP

Heavy fighting continues in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, where Rory Mason was killed. Photo: AP

Heavy fighting continues in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, where Rory Mason was killed. Photo: AP

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Mr Mason was fighting as part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Mr Mason’s family confirmed he was “killed in action” on Wednesday, September 28.

He was a native of Dunboyne, Co Meath, and was fighting in the Kharkiv region near the Russian border.

The Mason’s family learned of his death from the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is providing them with consular assistance.

His family issued a statement on Wednesday morning saying Rory is deeply missed by his heartbroken family, his parents Rob and Elizabeth, and his younger brother (22) and sister (21).

“Those who fought alongside Rory speak of ‘a truly brave and courageous man who could have left at any time but chose not to’.

"Though we are deeply saddened at his death, we are enormously proud of his courage and determination and his selflessness in immediately enlisting to support Ukraine,” his father said.

"Rory was never political but he had a deep sense of right and wrong and an inability to turn the other way in the face of injustice. He had a long-standing interest in Eastern Europe, in travel and in learning new languages, including Russian.”

Mr Mason’s family said information about his death is limited and their priority at this point is to repatriate his remains.

Rob said: “Rory was a private young man of drive, purpose and conviction.

“Those who fought alongside Rory speak of ‘a truly brave and courageous man who could have left at any time but chose not to’.

“In the words of a colleague who served with him, ‘Rory was a man who from a glance could seem shy, however when it came to actions and character he proved again and again he was a man of fortitude, principle and honour’.

“Rory was our son and we will miss him enormously. As our family is still trying to come to terms with Rory’s death, we would appeal for privacy at this difficult time.”

Before joining the International Legion, his family said he had been working in Germany to help fund his travel ambitions.

In a statement, the International Legion said: “Our brother in arms, Rory Mason, has taken part in the Kharkiv counteroffensive with his unit and was killed in action. While conducting operations, the unit came under attack.

“We are in contact with the family and in co-ordination with them, following their wishes and instructions, the International Legion and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are handling the repatriation process.

“At this time, to protect operational security and the family’s privacy we cannot release more information.

“Rory’s memory will live on in his unit, in the Legion and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“We would ask for the family’s privacy to be respected at this difficult time.”

Mr Mason’s former secondary school, St Peter's College, said it was shocked to hear the news of his untimely death while fighting for Ukraine.

"The entire St Peter's College community, students, past pupils, teachers and the board of management offer their condolences and deepest sympathies to Rory's family at this very difficult time,” it said.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying: “The Department of Foreign Affairs is aware of a case and is providing consular assistance.

“As with all consular cases, the department does not comment on the details of any individual case.”


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