Women of Honour group to meet Tánaiste ahead of report publication

Review examined allegations of sexual abuse, harassment, bullying in Defence Forces

A group of former Defence Forces members who detailed alleged sexual abuse and harassment in the military have criticised the lack of powers given to an independent review into the allegations, due to be discussed by Government.

The Women of Honour group is due to meet Tánaiste and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin on Monday, ahead of Cabinet discussing the report this week.

The report, examining allegations of sexual abuse, harassment, discrimination and bullying, was commissioned by then minister for defence Simon Coveney in 2021.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Mr Martin said the findings of the report were “very far reaching” and its publication would be a “watershed moment”.

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In a statement, the Women of Honour group said it was disappointed its members would not be given an opportunity to read the report during the meeting, ahead of it being brought to Cabinet on Tuesday.

The group said as a result the meeting with Mr Martin “smacks of little more than a public relations stunt by the Government”.

The women had never agreed with the review due to its lack of statutory powers to compel people and documents in its work, they said.

“It is compounding the hurt to victims by continuing to afford them such little respect, in failing to even allow them to read the report,” the statement said.

The group also criticised the delay in publishing the review, as well as describing its terms of reference as “tremendously flawed”.

The women said they expected the report would recommend a further statutory inquiry with legal powers be set up, which the group had previously called for in response to the allegations.

The concerns of the group with the scope of the independent review had been dismissed, they added. “The last 15 months have seen no changes, no resolutions and more victims,” the group said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times