Digital Desk Staff
The former army officer who blew the whistle on sexual abuse in the Defence Forces 20 years ago says the military still has not moved out of the last century.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Tom Clonan says the upcoming review into the culture of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps must be truly independent of the military.
Having raised the issue of sexual abuse in the Irish military two decades ago, Mr Clonan said it is clear the military establishment has not caught up with the rest of society.
“Bullying, harassment, sexual assault and rape of female soldiers, sailors and air crew was widespread throughout the organisation,” he claimed.
“These problems I demonstrated were systemic. In 21 years, I have never been approached by anybody from the Department of Defence and, during the worst period, not by anybody in the Defence Forces.”
The women who came forward must have a say in the terms of the official review and must be involved in identifying and nominating the people who should lead the inquiry, he said.
The experiences the women shared shows that the Defence Forces hasn’t moved beyond the 20th century, Mr Clonan said.
“We need a Defence Forces that is fit for purpose. We need a Defence Forces that is diverse, that cherishes equality because we are looking at challenges around an all-island situation. The geopolitical situation is becoming very unstable,” Mr Clonan said.
He criticised the Defence Forces and its chief of staff Seán Clancy for not speaking out immediately following the broadcast of the documentary on September 11.
Two days after ‘Women of Honour’ aired, the Defence Forces said they would like to “commend the bravery of the women who recently came forward and recounted their negative experiences while serving in the Defence Forces.
“As an organisation, all incidents of harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination are treated with the utmost seriousness and the Defence Forces share the deep concern about the allegations made.”
While Major General Seán Clancy said: “Members of our organisation have the right to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace and we are committed to ensuring that all personnel are provided with a safe working environment.”
The organisation said it would fully support, facilitate and co-operate with the review.