Family 'enormously proud' of Irishman killed fighting for Ukraine

Family 'enormously proud' of Irishman killed fighting for Ukraine

Irish man Rory Mason was killed in action in Ukraine.

The family of 23-year-old Irishman Rory Mason has confirmed he was killed in action while fighting in the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine near the Russian border.

The Mason family learned of Rory’s death from the Department of Foreign Affairs which is providing consular assistance. 

He died in battle on Wednesday, September 28.

The family is in ongoing contact with representatives of the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine for which Rory enlisted at the outset of the conflict last March.

A statement from the family said Rory is deeply missed by his heartbroken family, his parents Rob and Elizabeth, and his younger brother (22) and sister (21). 

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

"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.

“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, principal 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”.

Prior to joining the International Legion, Rory had been working in Germany, to help fund his travel ambitions. A native of Dunboyne, Co Meath, he attended Dunboyne National School and St Peter's College, Dunboyne.

Given Mr Mason was killed on the front line of an active war zone, information on what occurred is limited and the family’s priority is to repatriate Rory’s remains. 

Ukrainian MP Sviatoslav Yurash said that the people of Ukraine will forever thank Rory and his family for all he did to help their country “in this time of the greatest need”.

He said people like Rory had answered the call made by the free world. He had travelled to Ukraine to “battle against the onslaught” by Russia on Ukraine. He would now be in the pantheon of heroes.

Mr Yurash told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that the struggle remained constant and Ukraine continued to call to the citizens of the world “to help us any way they can.” The MP also thanked the people of Ireland for all they had done to support Ukraine.

A statement from the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine 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 coordination 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."

Speaking this morning, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe expressed his condolences to Rory Mason's family and friends. 

"I'm very conscious of the fact that there's a family grieving at the moment that have lost a loved member of their family in circumstances that we can hardly imagine. And I'm sure that grief is just heightened by the circumstances in which it happened, and by their lives been touched by a vast and vicious war," he said. 

Mr Donohoe said that the Department of Foreign Affairs was providing "all support that we can to his family. 

"We'll give them and their families any support that we can give in this terrible moment of loss," he added.

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