An Irishman has been killed while fighting in Ukraine, his family have confirmed.
Rory Mason (23), from Dunboyne, Co Meath, died while fighting for Ukraine’s International Legion near the Russian border.
The Mason family learnt of his death from the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is providing consular assistance.
The family said they are in contact with representatives of the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine, for which he enlisted last March.
Mr Mason’s family said that information on his death is limited and their priority at this point is to repatriate his remains.
His 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, 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.
Mr Marson attended Dunboyne National School and St Peter’s College, Dunboyne.
In a statement, the International Legion said: “Our brother in arms, Rory Mason, has taken part in the Kharkiv counter-offensive 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.”
The 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.”
Mr Mason is survived by his parents Rob and Elizabeth and a 22-year-old brother and 21-year-old sister.
'Battle against the onslaught'
Later, speaking to RTÉ Radio's Today with Claire Byrne programme, Ukrainian MP Sviatoslav Yurash said the people of Ukraine will forever thank Mr Mason and his family for all he did to help their country “in this time of the greatest need”.
People like Mr Mason had answered the call made by the free world, Mr Yurash said, adding the 23-year-old had travelled to Ukraine to “battle against the onslaught” by Russia on Ukraine.
Mr Mason would now be in the pantheon of heroes, the MP added.
The struggle remains constant and Ukraine is continuing to call to the citizens of the world “to help us any way they can”, Mr Yurash said, thanking the people of Ireland for all they have done to support Ukraine.