by Miceál O’Hurley
DUBLIN – It is with great joy that Diplomacy in Ireland – The European Diplomat announces the very first award of the Diplomatic Service Medal with Honours to an outstanding diplomat associated with Ireland who died during the Covid-19 pandemic in the service of diplomacy, peace and the care of her fellow citizens. The courage and determination of our first honouree, Her Excellency Ms. Laura Bernal, who continued at her post during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when so little was known about its dangers and treatments were yet to be identified, demonstrates rare courage and denotes this exceptional diplomat’s devotion to serve the people of her nation, Argentina, which relied on her in a global hour of need.
Her Excellency was born in Buenos Aires and, began her professional career as an academic, teaching history and international relations. Her diplomatic career began with a posting in Portugal, followed by Colombia and Greece. Prior to her arrival in Ireland, Ambassador Bernal served as the head of human resources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires. In her four years serving Argentina in Ireland as Ambassador she forged close links in Foxford, Co Mayo – the 1777 birthplace of Admiral William Brown – founder of the Argentine navy. She is fondly remembered by the people of Mayo for having led a large contingent from from Argentina, including some 200 officers and cadets from the Argentine training vessel ARA Libertad, who marched to Foxford where Ambassador Bernal laid a wreath in Admiral Brown’s honour at his monument. Ambassador Bernal is survived by her sister Araceli, who lives in Paris, her sister-in-law Luis María and her nieces and nephew María, Clara, Santiago, Victoria and Juan Pablo. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
The conferral of this inaugural award of the Diplomatic Service Medal with Honours to will take place in December.
About the Diplomatic Service Medal
The Diplomatic Service Medal is struck as a medallion suspended from a bar and ribbon of blue and yellow reflecting the colours adopted by the European Union of which Ireland is an integral member. Burnished silver in colour, the medal depicts Nike, the goddess of victory surrounded by the eleven of the twelve stars of the European Union signifying that the work of the European Union and diplomats everywhere is never complete. Tradition holds that Nike represents the mythic gods as the embodiment of victory in both war and peaceful competition. As uniquely depicted on the Diplomatic Service Medal, the goddess Nike, faithful to the foundational commission of diplomats, is rendered without her sword associated with military might and instead holds aloft the torch of truth, knowledge and service lit with the flame of wisdom in her left hand while in her right she embraces the laurel wreath of peace.
The Diplomatic Service Awards are an annual event hosted by Diplomacy in Ireland – The European Diplomat. The Certificate and Medal are of exceptional design depicting the victory of diplomacy over conflict. The awards are conferred by the Editor and the Awards Chairperson each December.
Two Types of Awards for Diplomacy, International Relations, Research, Teaching & Service
The Diplomatic Service Award is a certificate that can be awarded to individuals who merit special recognition owing to their exceptional contributions of service in the fields of diplomacy, foreign affairs or international relations, in research or teaching in the academy, or in distinguished service rendered to diplomats. When the Diplomatic Service Award is conferred it is done so by means of a certificate describing the acts that merit the award.
The Diplomatic Service Medal is a medal struck in metal suspended from a clasp and ribbon. It may be conferred upon those who serve in the domestic or foreign services, holding diplomatic rank, or those who have rendered exceptional service to diplomats and the cause of diplomacy. When the Diplomatic Service Medal is conferred it is accompanied by a certificate describing the reason for the award of the medal.
Medal Conferral Categories
Diplomatic Service Medal with Honours – This category is deferred solely upon those holding the dignity of Ambassadorial or Ministerial rank, or by those who discharged the rank of Chargé d’Affaires. It appears with a silver oak leaf device attached to the ribbon to denote the special dignity for which the medal was awarded. The medal is accompanied by a Certificate describing the reasons for the medal being conferred.
Diplomatic Service Medal – The medal suspended from the ribbon is awarded to all other recipients of the medal accompanied by a Certificate describing the reasons for the medal being conferred.
Diplomatic Service Medal with Valour Device – If any recipient is presented with the award for having exhibited exceptional valour in diplomatic service for the betterment of humanity, or the safety of civilians, which merits the award of the Diplomatic Service Medal with Valour. In this instance, a ‘V’ device surrounded by a laurel wreath is attached to the ribbon to denote this rare and special distinction. The medal is accompanied by a Certificate describing the reasons for the medal being conferred.
Diplomatic Service Award – Those whose contributions are deserving of recognition may be awarded the Diplomatic Service Award – Certificate of Recognition.
Conferral of Medals and Awards
Annual December Awards – The Diplomatic Service Medals and Awards are generally presented annually in December. However, the medal or award may be awarded at any time by a decision of the Editor and Awards Chairperson.
Comments from Editor-in-Chief Miceál O’Hurley
“I had the privilege of having known Ambassador Bernal and was pleased to have called her my friend. She was a great intellect, a caring person and a devoted diplomat. She is, I know, missed sorely by her colleagues, friends and of course, her loving families”.
“We decided to create the Diplomatic Service Medal and Award to help elevate the critical role diplomacy plains in all of our lives. Soldiers, who are afforded many various medals, may win wars – but it is diplomats that create and maintain the peace through an often difficult, challenging, exhausting and precarious process of learning, understanding, negotiation, monitoring and implementation that keeps our rules based world order functioning for the benefit of humanity. It was time we honoured those who work for peace as well with a fitting medal. It is only appropriate that we begin with the inaugural award of the Diplomatic Service Medal with Honours being conferred upon an outstanding diplomat who died in the service of her nations, promoting peace and humanity during this devastating pandemic”.
Comments from Awards Chairperson Oksana Shadrina
“Commemorating Ambassador Bernal pays tribute to the sacrifices she and all diplomats make in serving away from their homelands, and often family, for years at a time. As the poets Kamen and Riemer wrote so wisely, ‘As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.’ This medal, though a mere tokens of recognition, might serve to help us all remember her and her service, if even for a moment longer. Laura deserves that”.
For More Information Contact:
Miceál O’Hurley, Editor-in-Chief
Diplomacy in Ireland – The European Diplomat
Telephone: (086) 107 0017 or (01) 254 4747