Medal given to EU ministers for attending meeting sells – for €70

Ireland had unusual practice of awarding ministers medals for attending meetings

Whyte’s auctioneers said a bronze medal, given to one of the participants at a meeting of EU justice ministers, chaired by Ireland and held in Luxembourg in June 2004, had sold for €70

Whyte’s auctioneers said a bronze medal, given to one of the participants at a meeting of EU justice ministers, chaired by Ireland and held in Luxembourg in June 2004, had sold for €70

 

The Irish government used to award medals to EU ministers for attending meetings, it has emerged. This unusual practice came to light following the sale of one of the medals at auction in Dublin.

Whyte’s auctioneers said a bronze medal, given to one of the participants at a meeting of EU justice ministers, chaired by Ireland and held in Luxembourg in June 2004, had sold for €70 in its auction of historical memorabilia on Saturday .

Under the EU’s system of rotating presidency, the meeting was chaired by former minister for justice Michael McDowell, then leader of the Progressive Democrats in Bertie Ahern’s Fianna-Fáil led coalition government. The medals were given to those who attended.

The 75mm medal is a replica of Mr McDowell’s ministerial seal at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform .

It is believed that up to 50 of the medals were commissioned from Lee Brothers Ltd, a company based in Santry, Dublin, which supplies “medals, badges, trophies, awards and corporate gifts” and also offers an engraving service.

Cost

The cost is not known. Nor is it known whether other Irish government ministers commissioned their own sets of medals for the other European Council meetings they chaired.

A list of those at the Luxembourg meeting, seen by The Irish Times, shows the council was attended by senior or junior ministers from each member state except Italy, which was represented by its permanent representative (ambassador to the EU).

Germany and the Netherlands each had no fewer than three ministers present. Ireland was represented by Pat Folan, assistant secretary at the Department of Justice, as well as by Mr McDowell.

It is understood that everyone at the meeting received a medal, among them Belgium’s deputy prime minister, Laurette Onkelinx; Germany’s federal minister for the interior, Otto Schily; Spain’s minister for justice, José Antonio Alonso Suárez; and Sweden’s minister for justice, Barbro Holmberg.

Whyte’s did not say who had consigned the medal for sale but described it as in “extremely fine” condition and still in its original “green leatherette case”. It had a pre-auction estimate of €80-€100.

Afterwards, auctioneer Ian Whyte said the unnamed buyer had got “good value for €70”, as the item was “a very rare medal for collectors” and had sold for “less than the cost of making it”.