by Miceál O’Hurley
DUBLIN – His Excellency Mr. Louis-José Touron, Ambassador of Switzerland to Ireland, was presented with the Diplomatic Service Medal with Honours on Wednesday, 12 January 2022. Ambassador Touron was travelling at the time of the 2021 Diplomacy Awards in December and unable to appear in person. The conferral of the Diplomatic Service Medal with Honours took place at the Embassy of Switzerland to Ireland, Ballsbridge, Dublin.
The Awards Committee, comprised of two retired diplomats and two academics and the Chairperson, Oksana Shadrina, recommends individuals and NGOs and allied professionals for awards consideration based upon their contributions to diplomacy, bilateral and multilateral relations, research, publication and activities that bring merit to the themselves and the art of diplomacy. His Excellency Mr. Louis-José Touron was cited for his exceptional work in promoting the cultural and social ties between Switzerland and Ireland during the uncertain, early days of the pandemic when his initiative to celebrate the Swiss National Day virtually captivated the community’s attention with delight, entertainment, pride and a sense of hope.
If His Excellency Mr. Louis-José Touron, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Ireland, seemed to have appeared virtually everywhere on 1 August 2020, he did. In 2021, Ambassador Touron substituted his regular invitation for people to join the Swiss Mission at their Dublin Embassy to appear online to celebrate the Swiss National Day. Not one to let Covid-19 stand in the way of celebrating Switzerland’s National Day (known by one of the four official Swiss languages in German as Schweizer Bundesfeiertag; in French as Fête Nationale Suisse; in Italian as Festa Nazionale Svizzera; and, in Romansh as Festa Naziunala Svizra) Ambassador Touron gave his greetings via an online celebration of his homeland.
Speaking from his residence in Dublin, and owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ambassador Touron invited viewers to “… celebrate Swiss National Day, in a digital way, wherever you are in Ireland or in the world”. The Swiss National Day is an official holiday of Switzerland celebrated annually on 1 August. The founding of the Swiss Confederacy was first celebrated on this date in 1891 and annually since 1899.
Today’s Swiss National Day was inspired by the Federal Charter of 1291, in which “three Alpine cantons (Schwyz, Uri and Unterwald) swore the oath of confederation” which later came to be regarded as the foundation of the modern Swiss State. The Swiss National Day became an official holiday in Switzerland following the acceptance of a federal popular initiative in its favour in 1993. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic the Swiss National Day was traditionally celebrated with paper lanterns, bonfires, decorating streets and homes with the Swiss flag and fireworks displays.
Part of Ambassador Touron’s festive online celebration of his Swiss homeland included sharing an online performance of two extracts from the last of Guillaume Rossini’s masterpiece operas, William Tell. The online observance included the triumphal William Tell Overture performed by two members of the Irish National Opera, Aiofe O’Sullivan and Fergus Sheil, both performing on piano. Joining their colleagues in helping to celebrate the Swiss National Day were the Irish National Opera’s baritone vocalist Brett Polegato and Andrea Grant on piano performing Rossini’s aria Sois Immobile, also from Rossini’s 1829 William Tell opera.
William Tell is a Swiss folk hero of the 14th century. Legend has it that Tell, an expert marksman with the crossbow, assassinated the tyrannical Albrecht Gessler, a reeve of the Austrian dukes of the House of Habsburg, holding office in Altdorf in the canton of Uri. Tell’s defiance led to a universal rebellion against the House of Habsburg inspired a rising that led to the establishment of the Swiss Confederacy. The lore of William Tell took on new prominence in the 19th century as a symbol of resistance to foreign, aristocratic rule. Rossini’s opera, William Tell, celebrates the patriotic memory the Swiss folk hero still inspires.
His Excellency Mr. Louis-José Touron has served as the Swiss Ambassador to Ireland since 2018. The Swiss Embassy is located at 6, Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
Diplomatic Service Medal
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.