Tuesday, September 28, 2021

James Cox

The State will urgently carry out an independent review into claims of abuse raised by women in the Defence Forces.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney met the Women of Honour Group today. It is made up of retired members of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps.

Minister Coveney also met with serving members of the Defence Forces.

Speaking after the meetings, Mr Coveney expressed his “deep appreciation” to the women for speaking out.

He said the issues they have raised are of the utmost seriousness and need to be addressed in the most comprehensive way possible.

Mr Coveney said “clearly things are not as they should be today” in the Defence Forces.

Women of Honour

A recent RTÉ documentary, Women of Honour, uncovered the allegations.

Retired Army captain Diane Byrne said it was “a positive meeting” and that the Minister apologised and acknowledged “what’s happened and is still happening”.

“I think the priority now for the women I met today is that we work together to put structures in place that are truly independent of the Defence Forces and Department of Defence,” Mr Coveney said.

“There are credible, experienced people who can look in a fundamental way at practices and procedures and culture in the Irish Defence Forces to make sure that it is a safe and welcoming environment for everybody who wants to commit a career to the Irish Defence Forces, which is a fantastic career opportunity for people, but there are issues that need to be addressed head on and believe me they will be.”

‘Positive environment’

He added that the Defence Forces needs to be a place where everybody, “regardless of their background, their gender or their beliefs, can develop a career in safety and in a positive environment in the absence of bullying or harassment or intimidation”.

Retired captain Yvonne Murphy said the women were glad their voices had been heard. She also thanked the nation for “standing behind us”.

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